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 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,10 2006 - tech 
Building an affordable AM2 Gaming System - tech
(hx) 07:56 PM EST - Nov,10 2006 - Post a comment
The chaps over at TechSpot have actually built an affordable gaming system based on AMD's AM2 platform, coupled with an Athlon64 3800+ and a GeForce 7900GS, they keep this system's core components below the $600 mark, and then compare it against a top of the line Core 2 Duo E6700 gaming rig costing in excess of $1500.
The performance of our affordable AM2 gaming system was most impressive, especially given that it was two and a half times cheaper than the Core 2 Duo system. The core components cost just $600 which include the processor, motherboard, memory, hard drive and graphics card. In order to complete the system one would need to a case/power supply, keyboard, mouse and a monitor. There are also ways in which you could configure this system to save money. For example, a slower Athlon64 or even Sempron processor will save you money, as will a smaller hard drive or a slower graphics card.

However, if you enjoy playing computer games and wish to play the latest games in all their glory, then the system we went with today is a very good option for the price. All the components complemented one another very well, as it seemed to be the perfect balance between processing power and graphics performance. Also if you consider that the native resolution of most 19" and 17" LCD monitors is 1280x1024, and this system is quite capable of 1600x1200 gaming performance, settings such as FSAA and anisotropic filtering can be turned up quite high at 1280x1024 for extreme visual quality.
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,09 2006 - tech
Procedural Texturing: Gaming's Future? - tech
(hx) 05:41 PM EST - Nov,09 2006 - Post a comment / read (5)
Bit-Tech just published pretty interesting article/interview called Procedural Texturing: Gaming's Future. The interview covers the use of modern mathematical techniques to create textures instead of the standard use of compressed image files.  Pretty interesting reading. Here's a taster:
At least 70% of the textures of your game could be replaced by procedural equivalents. 70% is a minimum number of textures you can replace, in actuality the likelihood is you can replace more. So for example: replace 80% of the textures and if those textures occupy 50% of your game size, the overall game size would end up a little less than 50% smaller.

I have some actual examples from a recent game, Roboblitz. In this game, we replaced about 95% of the textures. The game has 6 levels and for each level the developers would use 80MB of compressed textures. So, let's do the numbers, a total of 6x80=480MB. Using our tools we replaced the 480MB with about 3MB of procedural data, a pretty spectacular decrease in game size.

The game now fits within 50MB and can be downloaded through Xbox Live. Without our technology this game would weigh approx 50MB-3MB+480MB=527MB. So the gain, for Roboblitz, we saved 90% of the entire game size. That is a massive gain for the developers which allows them to reach the Live audience - something they couldn't otherwise have done.
Tech Reading- nForce 680i-The Best Core2 Chipset - tech
(hx) 07:18 AM EST - Nov,09 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,08 2006 - tech
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX reviews - tech
(hx) 06:38 PM EST - Nov,08 2006 - Post a comment / read (7)
NVIDIA's next-generation DirectX 10 GPU has finally arrived! The GeForce 8800 GTS boasts 128 shading units running at over 1.3GHz, and a 384-bit memory interface with 768MB of memory.

Check out the reviews at AMDZone (LeadteK GeForce 8800GTS), Bit-Tech (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX), Bjorn3D (XFX Geforce 8800 GTX), BootDaily (MSI's New GeForce 8800 GTX), EliteBastards (Foxconn GeForce 8800 GTX), Guru 3D (GeForce 8800 GTS & GTX), HardOCP (BFGTech GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS), Hexus.net (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX), HotHardware (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX And GeForce 8800 GTS), I4U (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX), Motherboard.org (XFX GeForce 8800GTX), Neoseeker (BFG 8800GTS), PC Perspective (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX), TechPowerUp (NVIDIA GeForce 8800), TechReport (NVIDIA's GeForce 8800), THG (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX), TweakTown (MSI GeForce 8800GTS), ViperLair (NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX).
Motherboard.org (XFX GeForce 8800GTX): Gamers who want the best want the GeForce 8800GTX hands down as it offers the best performance, features and supported gaming titles than anything on planet Earth. ATI is nowhere to be seen and as the dust settles around the test lab there is only one card that dominates the show, the XFX 8800GTX. Games not only look superior, but they can be played at amazing resolutions with all the bells and whistles enabled without losing an ounce of performance. For now NVIDIA has caught up with current game technology and exceeded its needs. SLI mode has yet to be tested, but for now a single 8800GTX is faster than Dual-SLI enabled 7950GX2 cards, or Quad-SLI.

TechReport (NVIDIA's GeForce 8800): The G80 has just about everything else one could ask of a new GPU architecture, too. The new features and innovation are legion, anchored by the push for compliance with DirectX 10 and its new capabilities. The G71's texture filtering problems have been banished, and the G80 sets a new standard for image quality in terms of both texture filtering and edge antialiasing. This GPU's texture filtering hardware at last-or once again-delivers angle-independent anisotropic filtering at its default settings, and coverage sampled antialiasing offers the feathery-smooth quality of 16X sample sizes without being a major drag on frame rates. Despite being large enough to scare the cattle, the G80's doesn't draw much more power under load than the Radeon X1950 XTX. The chip is still too large and consumes too much power at idle, but this architecture should be a sweetheart once it makes the transition to a 65nm fab process, which is where it really belongs.

TweakTown (MSI GeForce 8800GTS): What's going to happen to the Radeon X1950XTX? Yes, it's cheaper then the 8800GTS, but not by a lot. And how could you not hold off for that next pay packet to throw it at the 8800GTS when it offers all this extra performance and all these extra features? It's clear that ATI will have to drop the price on the X1950XTX in the coming weeks to make their card more attractive. Plus, honestly, as much as we hate to say it but "fanboys" are going to want something until ATI's upcoming R600 GPU comes out. Which of course brings us to another point - is R600 going to be faster then the 8800GTX? We would think so. Why? ATI simply cannot afford to release a product four months after their competitor with what could only be the same performance or *shock*, worse. Start paying more attention to The Inquirer for the next few weeks because it's safe to say that if the R600 isn't performing up to the level of the 8800GTX, words like "delayed" will get leaked out all over the place.

My 6800GT didn't feel much slow until I looked at those benchmarks. Holy crap that thing is fast!! And the thing is damn quiet too. Now just gotta wait for the prices to drop a bit!
Windows Vista Goes Gold - tech
(hx) 04:01 PM EST - Nov,08 2006 - Post a comment / read (20)
Microsoft announced today that Windows Vista has been released to manufacturing. Vista will mark the first big shift in Microsoft consumer operating systems in over 5 years. According to Neowin, the RTM version of Vista will be available for MSDN subscribers sometime after November 10, while businesses should begin receiving their copies on or shortly after November 30. Vista will be launched into the retail sector on January 30, 2007.
With Vista, Microsoft promises increased security with an improved firewall and Windows Defender and User Account Control. Other fresh additions include integrated desktop search, Internet Explorer 7.0, Windows Sidebar, Windows Sideshow, built-in system diagnostics, improved gaming support, fully integrated Speech Recognition as well as support for Windows SuperFetch, Windows ReadyBoost and Windows ReadyDrive.

Windows Vista will be available in four distinct retail versions:
  • Windows Vista Home Basic, $199/$99.95 (full/upgrade) - Provides a basic platform for home users who want to keep tabs on email and Internet activity. Comes standard with Vista's new Search Explorer, Sidebar and Parental Controls.
  • Windows Vista Home Premium, $239/$159 - Builds on Home Basic by adding the Windows Aero interface, Windows Media Center functionality, Windows Tablet PC technology and integrated DVD burning.
  • Windows Vista Business, $299/$199 - Supports the Aero user interface, offers improved document managing and Windows Tablet PC functionality.
  • Windows Vista Ultimate, $399/$259 - Vista Ultimate combines the functionality of Vista Home Premium and Vista Business.
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,07 2006 - tech
Valve talks about Multi-Core CPU Processing - tech
(hx) 04:23 AM EST - Nov,07 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
TweakTown has an interesting article about an upcoming major upgrade to the Source engine. The Source engine was developed with modularity in mind so that new technologies can be implemented rather easily. The next big upgrade will take advantage of multi-core processors, a rather new advancement in personal computing. The future is looking mighty nice indeed:
In upcoming games using the Steam engine and even possibly some older games such as Half Life 2, you'll see smoke which not only drifts around the room but hits the roof and floats out the door in a true-to-life manor. You'll see individual rain drops which put out fire one by one. You'll see advanced AI which delivers more advanced computer enemies. Since the game has more processing power through the additional supported cores, computer enemies will be smarter and even be able to perform tactical analysis against you - for instance, working out the best place to hide because it has the processing power to work out where you are in the world and even where you might go to next. Maybe sometime in the future the US government will contact Valve to create some practice tactical military software for them?

Dual Core improved frame rate, Quad Core will add new experiences to the game such as life-like realism. Valve are bored (somewhat) with the GPU now - as they said, they can already create a model on the GPU to look like a real person but that model cannot act like a real person, yet. Now they want to focus on the CPU and create extreme realism. People ask when Half Life 3 will be ready but as Valve correctly state, the changes that they've made (or are currently making) are as good as a new version of the game.

These Multi-Core enhancements will be gradually added into the Steam engine and existing and future games using the engine, such as Episode 2 sometime early next year of Q1. There will be no single patch / update with the changes - they will be added over time.
Bit-Tech has recently posted similar article. Included in the six page preview were two videos that showed just a tiny hint of what the Source engine with multi-core support can truly do.
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,06 2006 - tech
Tech Reading - GeForce 8800 recall news - tech
(hx) 12:20 PM EST - Nov,06 2006 - Post a comment / read (9)
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,03 2006 - tech
NVIDIA G80 GeForce 8800GTX Performance - tech
(hx) 07:28 PM EST - Nov,03 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
NVIDIA is set to launch its upcoming G80 GeForce 8800GTX and 8800GTS graphics cards next week, however, DailyTech snagged a GeForce 8800GTX board to run a couple quick benchmarks on. The GeForce 8800GTX used for testing is equipped with 768MB of GDDR3 video memory on a 384-bit memory bus as previously reported. Core and memory clocks are set at 575 MHz and 900 MHz respectively. Other GeForce 8800 series features include 128-bit HDR with 16x anti-aliasing and NVIDIAs Quantum Physics Engine.

The test system configuration is as follows: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700, NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI based motherboard, 2x1GB PC2-6400, NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX, PowerColor ATI Radeon X1950 XTX and Western Digital Raptor 150.
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,02 2006 - tech
NVidia Forceware 93.71 WHQL Drivers - tech
(hx) 12:26 PM EST - Nov,02 2006 - Post a comment / read (4)
A new WHQL Forceware graphics drivers v93.71 (dated November 2nd, 2006 - download - Win2k/XP ~ 40.5MB) are available for download from the official NVIDIA download page. (thanks Stumpus)
Single-GPU Issues Resolved
- Error message occurs when running the NVIDIA Control Panel Television Setup Wizard.
- NVIDIA Quadro FX 4400: After changing the color settings from the NVIDIA Control panel, the settings revert to the default.
- GeForce 7950 GX2, NVIDIA Control Panel: The Multi-GPU performance mode default is set to Custom when initially creating a new application profile.
- GeForce 7950 GX2: In the NVIDIA Control Panel, Multi-GPU antialiasing modes are available when Multi-Display rendering mode is selected.
- GeForce 7900 GT: The new NVIDIA Control Panel lists the product name as GeForce 7900 GT/GTO, instead of the correct GeForce 7900 GT.
- GeForce 7600 GS, NVIDIA Control Panel/Classic Control Panel: HDTV component-out output is split vertically when applying the 1080i resolution.
- GeForce 7600 GS, GeForce 6150/6100: During video playback in VMR mode, video is corrupt and shaky when noise reduction is enabled.
- GeForce 6800 GT 256MB: Windows Media Player 10 video becomes corrupt when rotating the screen while playing a video.
- GeForce 6600 128MB: Windows Media Player 10 crashes when changing the resolution while playing a DVD.
- GeForce 6600 128MB: The secondary Dualview monitor flickers while playing any NTSC DVD.
- GeForce 6600 128MB: The NVIDIA Control Panel crashes while changing the desktop configuration after changing the video color settings.
- GeForce 6600, Windows XP Media Center Edition: While playing MCE Live TV in Clone mode with full-screen video mirror, the mirrored display is corrupted when resizing the application.
- GeForce 7300 GT, GeForce 6150/6100: HQV objects flutter and the test bar splits when noise reduction is enabled.
OpenAL and Windows Vista - tech
(hx) 09:48 AM EST - Nov,02 2006 - Post a comment / read (5)
With the launch of Windows Vista just around the corner, both gamers and game developers are asking questions about audio compatibility with OpenAL. This article is intended to address the issues. Here's a taster:
With Microsoft's decision to remove the audio hardware layer in Windows Vista, legacy DirectSound 3D games will no longer use hardware 3D algorithms for audio spatialization. Instead they will have to rely upon the new Microsoft software mixer that is built into Windows Vista. This new software mixer will give the users basic audio support for their old Direct Sound games but since it has no hardware layer, all EAX effects will be lost, and no individual per-voice processing can be performed using dedicated hardware processing.

EAX has become the de facto standard for real-time effects processing. It has been incorporated in hundreds of games and has become the method of choice for game developers wanting to add interactive environment effects to their titles. Some of the best selling games of all time use the EAX extensions to DirectSound 5.0 and beyond, including Warcraft3, Diablo2, World of Warcraft, Half Life, Ghost Recon, F.E.A.R. and many others. Under Windows Vista, these games will be losing the hardware support that came as standard under the previous Windows Operating Systems, and will no longer provide real-time interactive effects, making them sound empty and lifeless by comparison to the way they sound on Windows XP.

The good news for owners of advanced audio cards like SoundBlaster X-Fi is that the developer community has been preparing for this for over 3 years. Hardware audio will not be disappearing with the launch of Windows Vista. Games that support OpenAL today will continue to provide full hardware-enhanced 3D audio under Windows Vista. This includes games such as Battlefield 2, Doom3, Unreal Tournament2k4, Dungeon and Dragons Online, Prey, Quake 4, and many others (a full list can be found at http://www.openal.org/titles.html). These games have complete hardware-based HRTF support for multiple speaker and headphone setups as well as full support for all the different versions of EAX. Also, these games will be able to take advantage of the hardware-accelerated path on supporting hardware for performance and quality increases.
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 - Quad Core is here! - tech
(hx) 04:53 AM EST - Nov,02 2006 - Post a comment / read (4)
Today Intel is officially launching a new Quad-Core processor, formerly known by the company's internal code name, 'Kentsfield'. Kentsfield is the direct result of Intel's immense manufacturing and process technology prowess. Based on the company's 65nm manufacturing process, one of the very few fabs of its kind in high volume production at this time, the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is an integration of two Core 2 Duo dual-core processors on a single substrate for a total of 4 CPU cores in a single LGA 775 socket.

The Core 2 Extreme QX6700 runs at 2.66GHz on a 1066MHz front-side bus, so its clock speed matches that of the second fastest Core 2 Duo, the E6700. (The Core 2 Extreme X6800 is the fastest at 2.93GHz.)  Targeted at serious PC Enthusiasts and Workstation Power Users, this new quad-core CPU is poised to set new land-speed records in benchmark test suites.  The first reviews can be found on AnandTech, HardCoreWare, Bit-Tech, Hexus.net, HotHardware, LegitReviews, NeoSeeker, TechReport, TechSpot, THG, TweakTown and X-bit labs.
Like any solution with four CPU cores, the Core 2 Extreme QX6700's effectiveness depends on what you feed it. Give it a nicely parallelizable task with four or more threads, and it will utterly embarrass former top dogs like the Core 2 Extreme X6800 and the Athlon 64 FX-62. For applications like video encoding, 3D rendering, image processing, and scientific computing, the QX6700 trumps all other desktop processors-and, I suspect, a great many dual-socket Opteron workstations. 3DMark06's multithreaded CPU test gives us a glimpse of how multithreaded gaming might look, and the QX6700 performs very well there, too.

Feed it a simple app with only one or two threads, though, and this quad-core monster begins to look an awful lot like a Core 2 Duo E6700 with higher power consumption and a much steeper price tag. Of course, even that isn't a horrible place to be. In single- and dual-threaded applications, the QX6700 still wallops the Athlon 64 FX-62 nearly across the board, with similar power requirements and heat output. That fact simply underscores how good the Core 2 lineup truly is.
 Gameguru Mania News - Nov,01 2006 - tech
Tech Reading-Internet has Over 100 Million websites - tech
(hx) 07:10 PM EST - Nov,01 2006 - Post a comment
  • The Best Video Cards for Your Money: November 2006 - If you don't have the time to spend hours doing the research? Here is a simple list of the best gaming cards on offer for the money.
  • Three HDMI Graphics Cards Tested on LCD TV - Overall, the Sapphire X1600 offered the best feature set as a good graphics platform for an HTPC.
  • Does RAID0 Really Increase Disk Performance? - Yes, definitely!
  • Sony announces 'world's lightest' notebook - At 889 g, the Vaio G packs a 12.1" 1024x768 display, a 1.06GHz Intel Core Solo U1300 processor, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a fingerprint reader, and a battery that can keep the machine running for up to six hours.
  • Dell Rolls Out Budget 15" AMD-based Notebooks - The base $549 system will get you a Sempron 3500+ processor, 512MB of memory, 60GB hard drive, CD-RW/DVD combo drive, Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g adapter, Windows XP Home and a 1-year warranty. $859 will get you a Turion 64 MK-36, 1GB of memory, 80GB hard drive, 8x DVD burner, Windows XP Home and a 2-year warranty.
  • Philips Cineos 37PF9731D 37in LCD TV Review - TrustedReviews looked at the Philips Cineos 37PF9731D 37in LCD TV.
  • Microsoft sets date for Office, Vista business launch - Windows Vista and Office 2007 will be available to businesses beginning Nov. 30, while mainstream launch remains set for January.
  • Windows XP Exploit Shuts Off Windows Firewall - Microsoft on Oct. 31 confirmed it is investigating the issue, which targets ICS (Internet Connection Sharing), a feature in Windows XP that lets users share a dial-up or broadband connection with other users on a home network
  • Another Firefox 2 Bug - This flaw in the JavaScript Range object is different from the denial-of-service vulnerability in Firefox 2 that was confirmed by Mozilla last week. That bug is related to a more serious security hole, which was fixed in earlier versions of Firefox, the organization has said.
  • Catalyst 6.10 Comparison - Faster then Catalyst 6.9? See you in the following Catalyst Roundup! (In German, but checkout graphs)
  • Windows CE 6 Ships With 100% Kernel Source - What makes the latest version of CE different is that there is complete availability of Windows CE's kernel source code for developers. Developers can now access shared source code for the Windows CE kernel -- as well as certain device drivers and application-level components -- directly from within the Windows Embedded CE 6.0 distribution package.
  • The Internet Now has Over 100 Million Web Sites - There are now more than 100 million web sites on the Internet, according to Netcraft, whose monthly web server survey has reached 101.4 million sites.
  • Lost Moon Landing Tapes Discovered - For years 'lost' tapes recording data from the Apollo 11 Moon landing have been stored underneath the seats of Australian physics students. Last week, up to 100 tapes, clearly marked "NASA Manned Space Center", turned up after a search in a dusty basement of a physics lecture hall at Curtin University of Technology in Perth.
  • Shrek 4 Coming to Theaters in 2010 - DreamWorks Animation reported its earnings for the third quarter of 2006 on Tuesday and revealed that Shrek 4 will hit theaters in 2010. Also, the Puss in Boots movie, previously expected to go straight to DVD, will instead be a theatrical release sometime after Shrek 4. FYI, DreamWorks Animation's next project, Flushed Away, hits theaters on Friday, November 3. It will be followed by the company's Shrek the Third on May 18, 2007.
  • Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XVII - This is the full Simpson's episode "Treehouse of Horror XVII"
  • DeBerti F-650 is the devil's truck - This Ford F-650 by DeBerti Designs is politically incorrect, environmentally incorrect and wrong in so many other unsettling ways, and yet it still attracts crowds like a naked Angelina Jolie doing jumping jacks in the middle of the Las Vegas strip.
 Gameguru Mania News - Oct,31 2006 - tech
ATi Catalyst 6.10 Drivers - tech
(hx) 03:07 PM EST - Oct,31 2006 - Post a comment
AMD.ATI has released a new ATI Catalyst drivers (release notes) bringing them up to version 6.10. The package contains Radeon display driver 8.301, Multimedia Center 9.15, HydraVision, HydraVision Basic Edition, Remote Wonder 3.04, WDM Driver Install Bundle, Southbridge/IXP Driver and Catalyst Control Center Version 6.10. The new Cats adds support for ATI Radeon X1650 Pro, ATI Radeon 1950 XTX, ATI Radeon X1300 XT, adds native HDR + Anti-Aliasing support for The Elder Scrolls Oblivion and also promises huge Core 2 Duo Crossfire performance.
  • 3DMark2006: Setting the display resolution to 1600x1200 and AA to either 4x or 6x no longer results in display corruption being noticed when running the HDR1 test. This issue was known to occur on certain specific systems only. Further details can be found in topic number 737-23443.
  • Anarchy-Online: Screen corruption is no longer noticed when walking or running through the terrain. Further details can be found in topic number 737-22016
  • Black & White 2: Battle of the Gods: Intermittent display corruption is no longer noticed when playing the game in a system containing an ATI Radeon X1900 series and running the Windows MCE operating system when setting the graphics options within the game to high details. Further details can be found in topic number 737-23275.
  • Commandos Strike Force: Enabling CrossFire and playing the game no longer results in display corruption being noticed when using an Intel 965 motherboard. Further details can be found in topic number 737-23444
  • Godfather: Task switching between the game and the windows desktop no longer results in display corruption being noticed when playing the game at a display resolution of 1600x1200 (or higher) when having the in-game video options set to optimal quality. Further details can be found in topic number 737-23440 
  • Serious Sam 2: Playing the game on a system running the Windows MCE operating system and containing an ATI Radeon X1800 CrossFire Edition product no longer results in the operating system rebooting after approximately 20 minutes of game play when playing the game in a high setting windowed mode. Further details can be found in topic number 737-23445.
  • World of Warcraft: Playing the game for an extended period of time no longer results in the game failing to respond when using a Radeon X800. Further details can be found in topic number 737-22632
  • Catalyst Control Center: Setting new clock values no longer results in the confirm changes dialog box failing to be displayed and clicking on cancel option may result in the new values still being applied. Further details can be found in topic number 737-23278
 Gameguru Mania News - Oct,30 2006 - tech
Tech Reading - Is PS3 A Power Hog? - tech
(hx) 05:56 PM EST - Oct,30 2006 - Post a comment
  • AMD Announces 'Fusion' CPU/GPU Program - The Fusion chips aim to increase performance-per-Watt for applications such as 3D graphics, digital media and technical computing.
  • IBMs Next-Gen Cooling Techniques - IBM has demonstrated two new cooling techniques the greatly improve on todays processor cooling.
  • Geforce 8800 GTX scores around 11,300 in 3Dmark06 - A chap called Victor managed to get the full 8800 GTX scores out almost two weeks before the official launch.
  • ATI Chips Comparison Table - A table comparing the basic technical specs from all ATI graphics chips available on the market, from Radeon 9200 to Radeon X1950 XTX. Updated to include Radeon X1650 XT.
  • PowerColor Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB Review - Bit-Tech have a look at PowerColor's Radeon X1950 Pro, which comes fitted with an Arctic Cooling Accelero X2 cooler.
  • Dell XPS M1210 12.1-inch Laptop - Not only is it super portable, it can play many games without any problems. The glossy screen really set's it apart from many other laptops out there. The integrated webcam is great for video conferences and voice chat. It would be great for recording lectures or speeches. The full size keyboard makes typing easier than the smaller keyboards that were used on previous Dell ultra-portables. The touchpad buttons and keyboard are very comfortable and don't make typing difficult.
  • Two Quality Core 2 Duo Notebooks From Gigabyte: Which One Is For - At $1,595 the W251U is quite a bargain, but at $1,695 the W551N is an even greater bargain!
  • Dell about to unleash a sub-$500 AMD notebook? - After desktops and servers, Dell is getting ready to unveil some cheap notebooks based on AMD processors, according to DigiTimes. The first machine will come early next month with a 15.4" wide-screen display and a price tag of just $449-499, and Dell will reportedly add a 17" model in the first quarter of next year.
  • Seagate bakes security into hard-disk drive - Company pitches "DriveTrust" technology as a simpler way to safeguard data stored on laptops and to prevent embarrassing breaches.
  • MS Responds To Vista License Concerns - MS claims that the hardware tolerance of product activation for Windows Vista has been improved and is more flexible than that for Windows XP.
  • Microsoft Adds Office 2007 to Vista Upgrade Program - The software giant says it is offering the Technology Guarantee program to consumers and small businesses from Oct. 26, 2006, through March 15, 2007.
  • Why Two Browsers are Better than One - The just released Mozilla Firefox 2 may be better than Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7, but you'll probably want to use both.
  • Spoofing Bug Found In MSIE 7 - IE 7, released last week, allows a Web site to display a pop-up that can contain a spoofed Web address.
  • 10 expert tips and tweaks for Windows Vista RC2 - No beginner-level stuff here, and I've clearly labeled which are tips and which are tweaks.
  • Java platform going open-source before 2007 - Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz says his company plans to announce that it's opening up the Java platform's source code within the next 30 to 60 days.
  • Windows Media Player 11 Released -  This new version offers support for the URGE music store, Zune and provides better synchronisation for existing MP3 players.
  • Microsoft Introduces New Accounting Software - Office Accounting Express 2007 consists of desktop software available as a free download and seven integrated online services.
  • Sony delays Blu-ray player again - Originally scheduled to come out in July, Sony's BDP-S1 Blu-ray player has been delayed for the second time. This time, EE Times reports, the player isn't expected to hit store shelves until December and perhaps even next year.
  • Is PS3 A Power Hog? - With the Playstation 3 launch just around the corner, Sony has released further information about the next gen console. The PS3 is a power hog and consumes around 380 watts of power more than double the Xbox 360's 160 watts and eight times the PS2's nimble 45 watts.
  • Rolling out with Philips READUS e-paper demo videos - The Philips READUS addresses that issue with its unique roll-out screen, and here's a couple more video of this fantastic solution in action.
  • Man jailed five months for running Torrent tracker - U.S. District Court Judge James P. Jones has sentenced Stanley to a five-month prison term plus five months of house arrest, a $3,000 fine, and three years of "supervised release." In other news, four out of eight administrators of the Finnish BitTorrent tracker 'Finreactor' have been declared guilty in court and have to pay damages totaling 60,000 dollars each.
  • Blue Jean Dye Kills Cancer Cells - UK researchers are employing tiny gold "nanoparticles", 1/5000th the thickness of a human hair, to deliver the chemical compound directly into cancer cells, tearing them apart instantly. The common dye found in blue jeans and ballpoint pens is called phthalocyanine and is a light-activated, or photosensitive, agent with cell-destroying properties.
  • All-wheel-drive Ford Fusion 'aggressively priced' - There are two all-wheel-drive Fusions to be offered initially: the Fusion SE AWD and SEL AWD, priced starting at $23,430 and $24,525, respectively. By comparison, both a V6 Camry and V6 Accord go for just a touch under $24k each.
  • Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard: The Ultimate Armored Limousine (video) - check it out!
  • Windows Vista Sounds - check it out :-D
  • Cool visualization of US population density - 80% of the US population lives in a metropolitan area.
  • New Street Fighter Movie Coming - Capcom has signed a deal with Hyde Park Entertainment for a new Street Fighter movie reports Variety this morning. The new movie, set for a 2008 release, will focus on the female character Chun Li though details are being kept under wraps. The script will be written by Justin Marks, no director is attached to the project yet.
  • JESUS vs FROSTY: The Original South Park Short - The Spirit of Christmas (also known as Jesus vs Frosty) was the original short that circulated and eventually lead to the creation of South Park. Notice Kenny & Cartman have changed names.
  • Google tells you who you are - Just enter your name and Google tells you who you are.
AMD unveils ATI Radeon X1650 XT - tech
(hx) 11:35 AM EST - Oct,30 2006 - Post a comment
AMD today introduced an innovative graphics card that makes use of its new native CrossFire technology, the ATI Radeon X1650 XT. With a 575MHz clock speed, 24 pixel shaders, 8 vertex shaders, and a $149 price tag, the Radeon X1650 XT has all the right specs on paper to do extremely well in the mainstream graphics market. But does this new GPU deliver the goods in real performance?
AnandTech: The performance of the X1650 XT is just what you would expect from a mainstream graphics card of this type. With the 7600 GT being on the market for so long without any competition from ATI, the X1650 XT was overdue. With the release of this card, we now see performance from ATI that is very similar to the popular 7600 GT. This card handles a wide variety of games with ease at flexible resolutions. It still has trouble running some of the games at 1600x1200 and above, but getting smooth frame rates at 1280x1024 in nearly all the games we tested is a nice achievement in a card projected to be in the <$150 price range. Those with 1280x1024 monitors can easily shun more expensive GPUs without sacrificing that much in the way of gaming enjoyment.

FiringSquad: In terms of performance, the Radeon X1650 XT ran neck-and-neck with the Radeon X1800 GTO despite its 128-bit memory interface, even though we were testing with 4xAA. Overall the Radeon X1800 GTO was a little faster than the X1650 XT in most of our benchmarks, but the X1650 XT's new RV560 GPU kept it close for the most part. In comparison to the GeForce 7600 GT, the Radeon X1650 XT earns its fair share of wins and losses, but ultimately it wins more than it loses. The only games where the GeForce 7600 GT clearly came out ahead were in Quake 4 and Lock On: Modern Air Combat, while the Radeon X1650 XT clearly put up a stronger showing in Oblivion and to a less extent in Half-Life 2 Lost Coast, everywhere else the two cards really were neck-and-neck. Also keep in mind the plethora of factory overclocked GeForce 7600 GT cards which aren't tested here. Hopefully ATI's board partners will step up to the challenge and produce factory overclocked X1650 XT boards of their own, as our tests with the GPU indicate that it scales easily to higher clock speeds.

TecReport: The Radeon X1650 XT performs almost exactly on par with the GeForce 7600 GT overall. At long last, it establishes a performance balance between ATI's Radeon X1000-series products and Nvidia's GeForce 7 series products at $149. This same performance balance has existed for a while at other price points, and things are tighter than ever after the fall round of graphics card refreshes. In fact, I'm a little surprised to see ATI simply meeting Nvidia with a product that offers nearly equivalent performance to the GeForce 7600 GT. Typically, you'd expect some one-upsmanship to kick in here. After all, it's not like the GeForce 7600 GT wasn't a well-defined target-it's been selling since March. Had ATI pushed the GPU or memory clocks a little further, they could have grabbed the decisive performance lead.
The ATI Radeon X1650 XT will hit store shelves during the week of 13 November, at an estimated street price of US$149.
NFS: Carbon Demo performance analysis - tech
(hx) 08:06 AM EST - Oct,30 2006 - Post a comment / read (5)
Elite Bastards take a look at the performance and image quality of Need For Speed: Carbon Demo on a handful of ATI and NVIDIA boards to see how they stack up. Here's an excerpt:
Looking at our performance numbers, there is no doubt that Need For Speed: Carbon is a step up in its intensity of the GPU compared to its predecessor, Most Wanted, largely due to the performance impact of motion blur upon proceedings.

Despite all that however, we can see that the current ATI high-end boards we tested are more than comfortable with rendering this game at high resolution - 1600x1200 in the Radeon X1950 PRO's case, with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering also thrown into the mix at that resolution on the Radeon X1900 XTX.

The news isn't so good on NVIDIA's side of the coin - For starters, they need to get SLI working via a game profile while also fixing the flickering bug that plagued our abortive attempt to benchmark using a GeForce 7950 GX2. More pressingly however, they need to fix whatever performance issue is holding back the other NVIDIA boards used in our test - Although it may be understandable for them to trail ATI's parts which sport a large number of shader units, there's no way they should be as far behind as they are right now. Hopefully, NVIDIA will have released an updated driver by the time this game ships which fixes these performance issues and makes the game far more playable for user of their GeForce 7 series boards. Until then however, the best advice we can offer is to turn off the motion blur feature (which in all honesty you should probably do anyway, given how distracting it is), which should give you a far more enjoyable gaming experience.
 Gameguru Mania News - Oct,27 2006 - tech
DX10 Preview:The Future of PC Gaming - tech
(hx) 06:36 PM EDT - Oct,27 2006 - Post a comment / read (5)
The chaps over at FiringSquad take an extensive look at what the upcoming DirectX 10 graphics API from Microsoft means for the future of PC games and graphics. The article also includes a pretty interestinf Q&A with Epic Games' programmer Tim Sweeney. Here is a taster:
FiringSquad: Is there anything in DirectX 10 that you couldn't do in DirectX 9.0?

Tim Sweeney: Realistically, DirectX 10 doesn't introduce fundamentally new capabilities, but brings many new features that will enable developers to optimize games more thoroughly and thus deliver incrementally better visuals and better frame rates.

If you look at the long-term graphics roadmap, there have only been a few points where we've gained fundamentally new capabilities. The most visible was the move from DirectX 6, 7 and 8, which in practice were fixed-function, 8-bit rendering APIs, to DirectX 9 with programmable shaders and support for high-precision arithmetic. Most of the in-between steps have brought welcome but incremental improvements, and DirectX 10 falls into that category.

From here on, there is really only one major step remaining in the evolution of graphics hardware, and that's the eventual unification of CPU and GPU architectures into uniform hardware capable of supporting both efficiently. After that, the next 20 years of evolution in computing will just bring additional performance.

FiringSquad: Based on what you've seen with DirectX 10, do you think it will be easier for game developers to program for than DirectX 9 was? If yes, which features really stand out?

Tim Sweeney: You can't really use the word "easier" in conjunction with supporting DirectX 10. Because it's only available on Windows Vista and not XP, all developers who support it will have to continue supporting DirectX9, and henceforth maintain two versions of the rendering code in their engine. It's worth doing this, and we're doing it for Unreal Engine 3. But, far from making our lives easier, it brings a considerable amount of additional development cost and overhead to PC game development.

FiringSquad: We know that Unreal Engine 3 was largely developed with shader model 3.0 in mind, but do you plan on adding any DirectX 10 aspects into Unreal Engine 3 and ultimately Unreal Tournament 2007 or is that coming in UE4?

Tim Sweeney: Unreal Engine 3 will make full use of DirectX 10, and many of our and our partners' games will ship in 2007 with full support for DirectX 10 and Windows Vista. But, despite the marketing hype, DirectX 10 isn't all that different from DirectX 9, so you'll mainly see performance benefits on DirectX 10 rather than striking visual differences.

 Gameguru Mania News - Oct,24 2006 - tech
Tech Reading - MS Opens Access to Its Sender ID - tech
(hx) 07:24 AM EDT - Oct,24 2006 - Post a comment
  • Inno3D GeForce 7950 GT - At around L199.74 including VAT, it appears to be one of the better-priced GeForce 7950 GT cards on the market that come with 512MB of memory
  • ATI Radeon X1650PRO Graphics Cards Compared -All cards have their pros and cons - GeCube offer the best out of the box performance but with no real bundle.
  • Highpoint 1740 SATA-II Controller - PCI isn't Dead yet - While PCI Express is the future, it's still nice to see Highpoint adding entry level storage solutions on the PCI bus for those who have older systems without PCI Express slots, which there are quite a few servers and gamers out there, with such configuration.
  • Lots of Hi-Speed USB Pen Drives Tested - 512MB to 4GB - OCZ has a fast pen drive which is really only just a little bit slower than the Crucial pen drive and the Rally2 also looks great and is one of the smallest in the roundup. Silicon Power were a bit of a surprise - their pen drive was second to Crucial in most of our tests but just be careful of that spring-loaded cap free USB plug.
  • D-Link DIR-655 802.11n Router Ships - The pricing seems to be set to $200 for the DIR-655 router, $120 for the DWA-652 notebook adapter, $142 for the DWA-552 desktop adapter, $150 for the RangeBooster N USB Adapter. And these are available at all DLink outlets.
  • The Neurok Optics 17inch 3D LCD Monitor - Any of you who have had the pleasure of viewing 3D projections utilizing shutter-based, "nausea-inducing" glasses won't be disappointed to hear that the polarized frames used with the iZ3D are passive.
  • Rivatuner Version 2.0 RC 16.1 - For those of you who don't know, RivaTuner is a complete powerful tweaking environment, providing you everything you may need to tune NVIDIA GPU based display adapters.
  • Microsoft Releases Windows Defender final to the Web -Windows Defender is a free program that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software.
  • Oracle releases 11g database beta - At Oracle's OpenWorld show executive vice president for server technologies Chuck Rozwat, demonstrated 11g transferring 1Gb of data in less than nine seconds compared to 12 seconds for a file system!
  • Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX version 1.0 Beta - This Beta release is a preview of the fully-supported version of ASP.NET AJAX scheduled for release by the end of this year.
  • Microsoft Opens Access to Its Sender ID Spec - Microsoft has made the Sender ID framework specification for e-mail authentication available to users at no cost and with the guarantee that it will never take legal action against them. The Sender ID specification will now be available to anybody wanting to use it under Microsoft's Open Specification Promise.
  • Microsoft Blocks Windows Vista Rootkit Exploit - Rutkowska, who demonstrated the exploit at the Black Hat conference in August, said she tested the attack against Windows Vista RC2 x64 and found that the exploit doesn't work anymore.
  • Autodesk rushes out IE 7 compatibility fix - Prepares a "hotfix" for two applications in aim to remedy a problem working with Microsoft's browser update.
  • Google offers personal searches  - A tool that allows users to create a customised search engine is the latest offering from search giant Google.
  • Routers, storage servers to integrate BitTorrent - Three network device manufacturers have announced plans to integrate native BitTorrent functionality into their routers, network-attached storage (NAS), and media servers. The move stems from a collaborative effort between BitTorrent and Asus, Planex, and QNAP that will result in the following devices gaining native support for the BitTorrent file distribution protocol:
  • Denon DVD-1930 provides affordable 1080p HDMI upscaling - This time, Denon is offering their Faroudja powered product at a price point that most people can afford-less than 400 dollars. For the audio minded among us, the DVD-1930 features 216MHz/11bit high end Video DACs and is compatible with CD, SACD and DVD-Audio discs. Audio processing is handled by use of 24bit 192kHz audio DACs.
  • Sony to 'block PS3 Euro imports' - A spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) told the BBC: "The law is clear, and grey importing PS2, PSP or PS3 into the EU, without the express permission of SCEE is illegal."
  • Saw III's Darren Lynn Bousman Interview - ComingSoon.net has an intervew with director Darren Lynn Bousman about Saw III, the horror sequel.
  • Buena Vista Announces First 50GB Blu-ray Disc Titles - Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment (BVWHE) president Bob Chapek today announced BVWHE's next wave of Blu-ray Disc titles - Walt Disney Pictures' Invincible (December 19), Touchstone Pictures' Enemy of the State, Flightplan (both November 21) and Pearl Harbor (December 19). Most Blu-ray titles from BVWHE will be available for $34.99 SRP
  • Complete Evolution of humans animated in 8 minutes - check it out!
 Gameguru Mania News - Oct,23 2006 - tech
What Does 1080p Mean For Game Developers? - tech
(hx) 02:33 PM EDT - Oct,23 2006 - Post a comment
Microsoft's game dev blog Ozymandias has some thoughts and stats on High Definition Game Rendering:
Many developers, gamers, and journalists are confused by 1080p. They think that 1080p is somehow more challenging for game developers than 1080i, and they forget that 1080 (i or p) requires significant tradeoffs compared to 720p. Some facts to remember:
  • 2.25x: that's how many more pixels there are in 1920x1080 compared to 1280x720
  • 55.5%: that's how much less time you have to spend on each pixel when rendering 1920x1080 compared to 1280x720-the point being that at higher resolutions you have more pixels, but they necessarily can't look as good
  • 1.0x: that's how much harder it is for a game engine to render a game in 1080p as compared to 1080i-the number of pixels is identical so the cost is identical
    There is no such thing as a 1080p frame buffer. The frame buffer is 1080 pixels tall (and presumably 1920 wide) regardless of whether it is ultimately sent to the TV as an interlaced or as a progressive signal.
  • 1280x720 with 4x AA will generally look better than 1920x1080 with no anti-aliasing (there are more total samples).
Any game could be made to run at 1920x1080. However, it is a tradeoff. It means that you can show more detail (although you need larger textures and models to really get this benefit) but it means that you have much less time to run complex pixel shaders. Most games can't justify running at higher than 1280x720-it would actually make them look worse because of the compromises they will have to make in other areas.

1080p is a higher bandwidth connection from the frame buffer to the TV than 1080i. However the frame buffer itself is identical. 1080p will look better than 1080i-interlaced flicker is not a good thing-but it makes precisely zero difference to the game developer. Just as most Xbox 1 games let users choose 480i or 480p, because it was no extra work, 1080p versus 1080i is no extra work. It's just different settings on the display chip.
Mozilla Firefox 2.0 Download Available - tech
(hx) 12:13 PM EDT - Oct,23 2006 - Post a comment
The Mozilla Corporation have today uploaded the follow-up (v2.0) to their hugely popular web browser, Firefox. Despite not being featured on the Firefox homepage the files have all been uploaded to the Mozilla FTP site. The Windows installer weighs in at 5568KB, and was uploaded at 0819GMT today. As well as this both Mac and Linux versions have been added. This updated version is designated for release tomorrow, but avid Firefox users can get their hands on it now.
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