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  GTX 1070 With GDDR5X
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 12-05-2018, 11:02 PM - Forum: Video - No Replies


Quote:It looks like NVIDIA bought itself a mountain of unsold GDDR5X memory, and is now refreshing its own mountain of unsold GP104 inventory, to make products more presentable to consumers in the wake of its RTX 20-series and real-time ray-tracing lure. First, it was the GP104-based GTX 1060 6 GB with GDDR5X memory, and now it's the significantly faster GeForce GTX 1070, which is receiving the faster memory, along with otherwise unchanged specifications. ZOTAC is among the first NVIDIA add-in card partners ready with one such cards, the GTX 1070 AMP Extreme Core GDDR5X (model: ZT-P10700Q-10P).

Much like the GTX 1060 6 GB GDDR5X, this otherwise factory-overclocked ZOTAC card sticks to a memory clock speed of 8.00 GHz, despite using GDDR5X memory chips that are rated for 10 Gbps. It features 8 GB of it across the chip's full 256-bit memory bus width. The GPU is factory-overclocked by ZOTAC to tick at 1607 MHz, with 1797 MHz GPU Boost, which are below the clock-speeds of the GDDR5 AMP Extreme SKU, that has not just higher 1805 MHz GPU Boost frequency, but also overclocked memory at 8.20 GHz. Interestingly, ZOTAC used the AMP Extreme's more premium triple-fan IceStorm cooling solution, while the original GTX 1070 GDDR5 AMP Core only features a dual-fan 2-slot cooler. Out of the box, this card's performance shouldn't be distinguishable from the GDDR5 AMP Core, but the memory alone should serve up a significant overclocking headroom.

Quote:The GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Extreme Core GDDR5X is almost a mirror image of the GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Edition. Both come with a 1,607 MHz base clock and 1,797 MHz boost clock. They are also equipped with 8GB of memory across a 256-bit memory interface.

The GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Extreme Core GDDR5X's memory is clocked at 2,002 MHz (8,008 MHz effective) just like the GDDR5 memory on the GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Edition. From a performance standpoint, the GDDR5X model offers zero benefits over the GDDR5 model, which is a darn shame considering that GDDR5X chips can clock all the way up to 10,000MHz.

Zotac listed the GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Extreme Core GDDR5X with a 250W TDP (thermal design power), which is 100W higher than a reference GeForce GTX 1070. It's understandable as the graphics card features a hefty factory overclock out-of-the-box. Curiously, the TDP on the GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Extreme Core GDDR5X is still 30W higher than the company's GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Edition model, which runs with the same overclock.

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  Epic Games Launches Own Games Store
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 12-05-2018, 10:53 PM - Forum: Gaming - No Replies


Quote:Epic Games, the maker of the Unreal Engine gaming engine, has just announced its own multi-platform games store. The company will support Windows and macOS at launch, but it will also support “other open platforms,” including Android and presumably Linux, next year.
That means Epic Games takes only a 12% cut, which is almost three times smaller than what Steam and Google Play Store charge most developers. Epic said there are no tiers or thresholds that developers have to meet either, unlike with other platforms.

Moreover, developers that use the Unreal Engine and who normally have to pay a 5% royalty will be exempted from paying that royalty, as Epic will take its 5% cut from the 12% store commission. Epic Games noted that games using other game engines are welcome on its store, too:
Google normally takes a 30% cut from the third-party developers’ app revenues. Apple and Valve’s Steam service take the same 30% cut. However, Steam recently announced a reduction in its commissions for large developers, presumably to preempt the launch of Epic Games’ store.

Steam now charges large developers that have earnings of over $10 million a 25% commission, and those that have earnings over $50 million a 20% commission. The latter is still almost twice as large as Epic Games’ commission. Additionally, some of those developers may still have to pay the 5% Unreal Engine royalty on top of the Steam commission.

Quote:Epic looks to give developers far more freedom with their digital platform as well. Offering access to their 10,000 strong Epic Games Support-A-Creator program that is designed to get a developer's games into the hands of YouTube content creators, Twitch streamers, etc. They even go so far as to cover the first 5% of creator revenue-sharing costs for the first 24 months. Better yet while its an option it is not mandatory, thus giving developers options that best suit their needs without forcing a one-size fits all approach. Developers are also given complete control over their game pages and news feeds, with no other advertisements or marketing of competing titles.

Overall it appears Epic is ready to take a slice of the digital pie and has prepared for some time to do just that. The only real problem will be converting users away from Steam. While EA's Origin platform has had some success, it has also been around for seven years at this point. Meanwhile, Ubisoft has a weird amalgamation of Steam and Uplay, that is somewhat separate from their stand-alone Uplay store which when you consider the issues associated with it, comes off as being a complete mess. Therefore while it seems the Epic Games store is primed for success, it's all about gaining users, and while Fortnite is a phenomenon, it remains to be seen if it will be enough to convert a legion of followers into using the Epic Games store instead of Steam.

Quote:Epic further notes that it wants developers to have a direct relationship with players. Those buying games in the Store automatically get subscribed to the developer's news feed, and there will be no store ads or cross-marketing of other games on a particular title's page. The company notes that it won't allow paid ads in search results, either.

In another grassroots-building move, developers will be able to allow referral purchases of their games through the Epic Store. The company will cover the first 5% paid out through the revenue-sharing program per game for the first two years. Once again, that's a right hook at Valve, whose Steam storefront has no referral program.

The point is generally good, although he misses the fact that Valve released Artifact last month.
Quote:And there it is. Valve isn’t a game developer. It’s a gate-keeper that exploits its position in the PC market, knowing the chances of anyone going elsewhere are slim, because where would you go in the first place? Services like GoG, Origin, and uPlay can work for some titles, but Steam has been the virtual storefront for most of PC gaming. The problem is, virtually none of the wealth poured into the company on a yearly basis actually seems to go to making games. Or a Steam client redesign. Or content moderators. Or OS development. Or hardware development. If you love DoTA, Valve is great. If you cared about Portal, L4D, Half-Life, Valve’s practically dead already.

Obviously, it’s still early days. Epic Games’ service might suck, or refuse to offer refunds, or be catastrophically buggy. But this is the biggest change we’ve seen in years for someone to compete more effectively with Valve. According to Sweeney, the Epic Games store will be giving out a free game every two weeks in 2019, so keep an eye out for announcements.

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  Major Flaw In Sennheiser Headset Software
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-30-2018, 05:43 AM - Forum: General Hardware - No Replies


Quote:You would not expect software for your headphones to seriously impair your computer’s security, but that’s exactly what Sennheiser managed to do. The desktop application for its headsets, called HeadSetup and HeadSetup Pro, included a botched root certificate, allowing anyone aware of the flaw to impersonate websites without detection. Sennheiser has issued a patch for the software, but it doesn’t seem to grasp the gravity of the screw-up.
Perhaps the worst aspect of Sennheiser’s error is that uninstalling HeadSetup won’t fix the vulnerability. Even after clearing all the software, the certificate remains in place and valid. The company has released a patch that replaces that certificate with one that doesn’t leak its private key, but there’s no way to force people to update or even to make sure they know there’s a problem.

The flaw has been compared with Lenovo’s Superfish bug, which affected PCs back in 2015. Superfish was a sketchy adware program bundled on Lenovo’s PCs, and like Sennheiser HeadSetup, it contained a flawed root certificate that allowed third-parties to spoof websites. That was arguably worse because the bug was preloaded on new PCs. There will be fewer systems affected by Sennheiser’s vulnerability, but the risk is very much the same for those with the bugged software.

Lenovo was eventually fined $3.5 million by the FTC over Superfish. Sennheiser might want to start setting some cash aside.

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  FTC Finally Investigates Loot Boxes
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-29-2018, 02:10 AM - Forum: Gaming - No Replies


Quote:The U.S. is actually coming late to the loot box regulation party. (Not a whole lot of people RSVP'd.) Dutch gaming authorities went after Valve in June, and in September, the European Union's gambling commission announced that it planned to investigate the trend. It makes sense--the only difference between loot boxes and typical gambling is that the former's prizes are in-game items rather than real money.

That's part of the reason why loot boxes are so effective. It doesn't matter how low the chances of getting something you actually want are if there's at least some possibility. Combine that with the fact that many games make opening loot boxes a spectacle filled with neat sound effects, cute animations, and the like, and it's no wonder so many gamers find themselves spending money on these digital slot machines.

This is particularly concerning--especially from a regulatory standpoint--when loot boxes make their way into kid's games. That's exactly what Hassan mentioned in the Congressional oversight committee where she asked the FTC to investigate the model. According to Polygon, Hassan said that children are especially vulnerable to the appeal of loot boxes, which is worrying given how close they are to gambling.

There's no telling how long it will take the FTC to investigate loot boxes or, if it agrees that they need to be regulated, how it will do so. Considering how vital these revenue sources have become to game companies, odds are good that they'll aggressively lobby to protect themselves from regulation. Regulators around the world are finally paying attention to the issue, though, and that's a good thing.

Quote:The more regulators and researchers look into loot boxes, the more they look like gambling. It doesn’t matter if the items you get have no real-world value — people attach value to them. This is different than a conventional in-game purchase or DLC because you don’t know what you’re getting in a loot box. So, you can’t do a cost-benefit analysis to decide if you should spend the money. Loot boxes exploit human psychology just like a spinning roulette wheel, dangling the possibility of fabulous prizes in front of our faces to encourage spending. We’re only beginning to understand how that affects players, and maybe the FTC can help figure that out.

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  Spire Caught Copying Competitor's Ergonomic Keyboard
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-28-2018, 11:23 PM - Forum: General Hardware - No Replies


Quote:Spire deactivated its product page for this keyboard, because the product isn't officially launched. The "Specifications" tab of Spire product page mentioned an internal price for the keyboard of $80 +taxes, which we used in our original write-up. Spire asked us to correct this to $99.95 +taxes. After first-contact with X-bows, and after the Spire product page went down, we sought high-resolution images from our Spire contact, who promptly responded with them. Guess what we find? X-bows' claim checks out. Even the images Spire provided show visible X-bows branding. And as the plot thickens, we have reached out to Spire for additional comments.

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  Comet Lake Discussion Thread
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-26-2018, 11:02 PM - Forum: General Hardware - Replies (1)


Quote:Intel's next silicon fabrication node, 10 nm, takes off only toward the end of 2019, and AMD is expected to launch its 7 nm "Zen 2" architecture much sooner than that (debuts in December 2018). Intel probably fears AMD could launch client-segment "Zen 2" processors before Intel's first 10 nm client-segment products, to cash in on its competitive edge. Intel is looking to blunt that with "Comet Lake." Designed for the LGA115x mainstream-desktop platform, "Comet Lake" is a 10-core processor die built on 14 nm, and could be the foundation of the 10th generation Core processor family. It's unlikely that the underlying core design is changed from "Skylake" (circa 2016). It could retain the same cache hierarchy, with 256 KB per core L2 cache, and 20 MB shared L3 cache. All is not rosy in the AMD camp. The first AMD 7 nm processors will target the enterprise segment and not client, and CEO Lisa Su in her quarterly financial results calls has been evasive about when the first 7 nm client-segment products could come out. There was some chatter in September of a "Zen+" based 10-core socket AM4 product leading up to them.

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  Vive Wireless Has Issues With Ryzen
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-21-2018, 10:01 PM - Forum: Gaming - No Replies


Quote:HTC confirmed it is “looking into multiple reports of Ryzen incompatibility with the Vive Wireless Adapter,” and is “working with multiple component manufacturers to find the root cause,” Tom’s Hardware reports. It is not known, at this time, what would be causing these issues or why the company hasn’t been able to isolate or find them after two months of work. It’s obvious that AMD wasn’t on HTC’s radar when developing the headset; THG’s testing makes it clear that the Ryzen platform fundamentally couldn’t maintain playable frame rates with the wireless adapter enabled for reasons that were unclear.

The issue seems likely to be on HTC’s end or caused by the interplay of driver settings between what’s expected behavior between two different system components. This kind of low-level problem can take time to run down, though it’s still disappointing to see HTC essentially saying it has no timeframe or ETA for any kind of fix. Offering a refund is the right move, but AMD gamers deserve hardware that supports their platforms as robustly as they’d support Intel.

If we had to guess, we’d guess that this kind of issue is a lingering reflection of AMD’s long absence from the gaming market. Ryzen wasn’t even in-market when the Vive launched, and the majority of its user-base is likely on Intel hardware. With AMD gaining market share in desktops, Ryzen support is going to matter more in future cycles, but HTC may have overlooked the need to bring up its hardware on both platforms, particularly given the company’s long-term financial issues and other problems.

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  Valve Ends Steam Link
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-21-2018, 02:52 AM - Forum: Gaming - Replies (2)

It's ironic. This is what Valve used to semi-officially kill the Steam machines. Now it hasn't lasted very long itself, just like the Steam Machines.

Quote:While the concept was interesting, the device was frequently discounted having at one point gone as low as $2.50. Now, Valve has confirmed that it is giving up on selling it. Through a post in the Steam Community, the company announced that there are no more supplies for the Steam Link hardware in Europe and that the United States will be running out of stock soon as well, after which you should no longer expect to be able to buy it. Valve does plan to continue to support existing hardware for the time being, so you won't be completely left in the cold.

The focus for Steam Link has moved from dedicated hardware to software that's present on popular platforms. Last year, Valve launched the Steam Link app for Samsung Smart TVs, and it's also available in beta form for Android devices. These apps use the same technology for streaming games as the Steam Link hardware, and they feature added capabilities such as support for 4K resolution, so it's unlikely that many will be particularly upset about the hardware going away. Nonetheless, if you wanna grab one before it's gone, you can try to do so here.

Quote:This is a long time coming. Valve's hardware never really caught on with most consumers--the convenience of playing on a TV doesn't exactly outweigh the cost of buying a Steam Link, plus the hassle of hooking up the device, which is not hard but is also not as easy as simply plugging in a console. Combine that with the relative dearth of quality living room peripherals, and you have a niche product.

Valve also regularly slashed the Steam Link's cost far below its standard $50 (£39) price tag, practically giving it away during various sales and promotions. This could have been a last-ditch effort to prove the hardware could grow more popular if it was cheaper, but it seems just as likely that Valve simply wanted to sell through its stock. Then it would only have to worry about the units it's already sold.

There was another, more obvious indicator that Valve had given up on Steam Link hardware. Earlier this year the company introduced a Steam Link app for Android (and, after some back-and-forth with Apple iOS) devices. The app did everything the Steam Link hardware was supposed to do--make PC games available elsewhere--while offering even more freedom by living on smartphones and tablets instead of TVs.

It's not clear what Valve plans to do in the hardware market going forward. It's possible the company will continue to make the Steam Controller simply because it's more popular than the Steam Link was and because Steam Link app users could use a Valve-designed gamepad instead of having to rely on third-party solutions. That way Valve would manage the important aspects of the experience, from game sales to gameplay.

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  Microsoft Inserts, Then Pulls, Ads From Windows 10 Mail
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 11-20-2018, 03:18 AM - Forum: Software & Programming - No Replies


Quote:I have no doubt that Microsoft tests many features that it doesn’t roll out to customers. I highly doubt they bother to create FAQ documents spelling out exactly how the feature works, which customers it impacts, which OS versions it applies to, which countries are currently enrolled in pilot testing, and the exact rules for when and how ads will be shown for a feature they have no intention of deploying. Saying something was never intended to be tested broadly could simply mean the test was intended to be confined to the countries listed above as opposed to rolling out to Windows Insiders in general.

If you think about it, you can tell the difference. When people’s Windows 10 Pro installations were erroneously flagged as Windows 10 Home earlier this month, there wasn’t an initial Microsoft response. The company eventually released a quick “Hey, we’re working to fix the problem.” When a company has an FAQ drawn up with this kind of information on it, it means that feature and its implementation have been thoroughly discussed already, even if a rollout or public announcement hasn’t been set yet.

Earlier this year, Microsoft tried to scare people away from using Chrome. The Verge points out one change I missed — in March, Microsoft tested a feature in which clicking on links in Mail would open them in Edge rather than the system default browser, bypassing your own browser preference. Now, it wants to bury ads in Mail as a way of shoving people into using Office 365.

Microsoft needs to step back and consider how its aggressive and unwelcome intrusions are changing the perceived dynamic between the company and its users. After several poor update experiences, I find myself unconsciously thinking about a major Windows update the same way I’d think about the chore of minding a child I had to watch, constantly. Updates don’t mean nifty new features, they mean trudging through the OS to find whatever defaults Microsoft has changed to favor its own preferences as opposed to mine. This, of course, assumes I’m not spending several hours trying to fix whatever bugs Microsoft introduced via the update process.

It would be nice, at least, if Microsoft was honest about its own intentions. “We introduced scary language to push users away from Chrome because no one likes our browser,” would be a good start. So would “We put ads in Mail hoping to annoy more of you into giving us money.”

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  Massachusetts goes after Comcast's Hidden Fees
Posted by: dmcowen674 - 11-15-2018, 11:40 PM - Forum: News & Politics - No Replies


Comcast forced to pay refunds after its hidden fees hurt customers’ credit

AG: Comcast tricked customers into long-term contracts, then raised bills 40%

Comcast has agreed to pay $700,000 in refunds "and cancel debts for more than 20,000 Massachusetts customers" to settle allegations that it used deceptive advertising to promote long-term cable contracts, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey;[url=https://www.mass.gov/news/comcast-to-pay-700000-in-refunds-and-cancel-debts-for-more-than-20000-massachusetts-customers][/url] "Comcast stuck too many Massachusetts customers with lengthy, expensive contracts that left many in debt and others with damaged credit," Healey said.

Comcast advertised a $99 lock-in rate "but did not adequately disclose equipment costs and mandatory monthly fees" that would add to monthly bills, and "failed to adequately disclose that the fees could increase while the customer was locked into the long-term contract," the AG investigation found.

As a result, customers entered long-term contracts that they could not afford; the inadequately disclosed fees typically raised customers' bills by 40 percent over the advertised price, the AG said.

"These customers were required to pay early termination fees of up to $240 to cancel long-term contracts, even when they downgraded Comcast services to a more affordable monthly package," the announcement said. 

The settlement requires Comcast to improve the disclosures it makes to customers before they sign long-term contracts. "Comcast must disclose the existence of additional fees in all advertisements, and train sales representatives to disclose true monthly service prices to customers before they enter long-term contracts," the AG's office said.

Companies are required to give customers "clear information about the products and services they buy," Healey said. "This settlement should encourage the entire cable and telecommunications industry to take a close look at their advertisements and make sure customers are getting a fair offer."

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