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  Steam Machines: The OEMs Talk
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-10-2017, 10:50 PM - Forum: Gaming - No Replies


Quote:“Nobody was buying it with SteamOS,” Digital Storm marketing manager Rajeev Kuruppu tells me over the phone. The manufacturer had already been building the Eclipse—which is still available with Windows—when Valve pitched SteamOS, and added a Steam Machine build mid-project. That version has since been axed, and Digital Storm no longer has an active relationship with Valve.

“I think over time as the demand from customers wasn’t there we basically had no reason to speak with Valve,” says Kuruppu. Digital Storm is still open to working with Valve, so long as its customers want what Valve is putting out. Right now, they don’t.

SteamOS isn’t dead. Its most recent update came just last month, and a few newer games such as XCOM 2, Stardew Valley, and Hollow Knight support it. But the Steam Machine revolution never came to pass. After speaking to three PC builders and collecting news stories from the past four years, I’ve put together a brief timeline to illuminate what happened to the project that was going to put Steam at the center of PC gaming.

September 2013: SteamOS, Steam Machines, and the Steam Controller are announced.
December 2013: SteamOS 1.0 ‘alchemist’ releases. It’s buggy and missing features, essentially offering a hard-to-install Steam Big Picture Mode over a generic Debian desktop, with some third-party drivers. It also doesn’t support AMD graphics cards.
January 2014: An update to SteamOS alchemist adds AMD graphics support.
May 2014: The Steam Controller is delayed to 2015.
June 2014: The Alienware Steam Machine is ready to go, but SteamOS and the controller still aren’t. Dell decides to ship it as the Alienware Alpha with Windows.
March 2015: Valve announces the HTC Vive and Steam Link.
June 2015: A preview of SteamOS ‘brewmaster’ is released.
July 2015: Windows 10 releases.
November 2015: The first Steam Machines from Alienware, Zotac, and Cyberpower are shipped. Ars Technica reports that games suffer a framerate loss on SteamOS vs Windows 10. Tom’s Guide writes: “Steam Machines were an interesting idea... three years ago.”
June 2016: Fewer than 500,000 Steam Machines have been sold.
“We didn’t want to offer customers an experience of only the SteamOS and therefore only a small percentage of games that they can play,” Origin CEO Kevin Wasielewski tells me in an email. The company had previously announced a system that dual-booted Windows 10 and SteamOS. “I don’t recall when it happened, but at some point we decided to offer a living room PC with Windows only. SteamOS didn’t have the hardware support to be a fully customizable high end PC. SteamOS didn’t have a performance increase on any or many games. SteamOS didn’t have a growing library of games.”
Valve’s own Steam Link may have also worked against the Steam Machines initiative, according to PC builder iBuyPower.

“While everyone’s ramping up in the middle [of the development of Steam Machines], Valve announces that they’re going to have their Steam Link, which is essentially what we’re building but now at this very low cost, very small unit that just connects to your PC,” says iBuyPower marketing manager Michael Hoang. “And then you can just play your games through your television instead of buying a whole new unit, which is what they originally pitched for SteamOS and for all the OEMs. So, in a way, it was almost kind of like Valve pitched us this new great idea, that ‘Hey, you guys can do all this,’ but then at the same time they were working on their own technology to say, ‘Hey, maybe buying a whole separate machine wasn’t a good idea, let’s just buy a small little stream unit that you can stream directly from your PC to your TV and buy our controller.’”

(Disclosure: PC Gamer hardware editor Tuan Nguyen previously worked at iBuyPower.)

Hoang’s timeline of events, while the dates are fuzzy, charts a burst of excitement followed by slow development, lack of communication from Valve, and an overall failure that iBuyPower doesn’t intend to repeat.

“We even sent Gabe [Newell] a Revolt 1, just out of the blue,” says Hoang about the beginning of the project. “We sent him a system, did custom packaging and everything, and he was really happy and very impressed with what we were doing. And it looked like we were kind of the forerunners for the Steam Machine, and we were, because we launched it first, and they also helped announce it with us. So we were very excited. We got that press, we got that recognition from Valve, and their promise that they were going to continue making SteamOS, making sure that all the games were getting ported over to Linux. So everyone had high hopes, the whole community had high hopes.”

But Valve grew quieter throughout the project, according to Hoang, though he was unable to find email records from the time. “We were heavily reliant on [Valve’s] updates to make sure the SBX was successful,” he said. “But, yeah, they would say, ‘OK, we’re still working on the updates,’ and that’s it. That’s the end of the email. Or [they would] just be unresponsive ... And we knew at that point, ‘OK, they’re not doing anything, they don’t plan on updating SteamOS ever.’”

Valve did update SteamOS, and continues to, but over two years passed between the announcement and the release, and even then it wasn’t ready. Ars Technica’s November 2015 report that games suffered performance losses on SteamOS compared to Windows 10 was especially damaging—why would savvy PC gamers switch? And why would console gamers choose a Steam Machine rather than buying a desktop gaming PC, or even a Windows laptop? Origin’s Wasielewski points out that nearly any PC is just an HDMI cable short of being a living room PC. “Laptops are so powerful now that I use my laptop all the time to hook up to my TV and play some local co-op games,” he says.

And while iBuyPower initially thought a Steam Machine could expand its customer base to include console gamers, Huong discovered they were actually inventing an entirely new demographic target.

“We started thinking, ‘Hey, you know, we’re actually creating a middle-tier niche for this at this point,’” says Hoang. “You have your console, you have your PC gamers, we’re right in between. We’re right in the middle where no one can really claim which one this is. So now we’re creating a new demographic that has never been created, so we have to do everything from the ground up at this point. And it was very, very hard to convince people, well, do I want to be a PC gamer? Do I want to stick with just being console? Or this new thing in the middle.”

What’s the best thing to come of iBuyPower’s SBX? The LED strip, says Hoang, which looked really nice. Otherwise, it was “learning what not to do,” because even when iBuyPower pivoted from SteamOS to Windows 8 in 2014, it still wasn’t satisfied with the SBX: they’d built something counter to their ethos, a box with a custom motherboard that was hard for customers to upgrade. The SBX was a misstep in Hoang’s eyes, who’s now more excited about tempered glass LED side panels. And he feels Valve benefited from that misstep.

“They pretty much took all the things they learned from us, all the things they learned from all system integrators and OEMs, and just kind of cherry picked what they wanted to do,” says Hoang after noting that, aside from the Steam Link, adding Big Picture Mode to Steam on Windows also cut into the appeal of SteamOS.

iBuyPower has no plans to build another PC that its customers can’t easily upgrade, and if it were to build an SBX2, Hoang says they’d do it on their own terms. Unless PC gamers start demanding SteamOS, it’s clear they’ll stick with Windows. That also goes for Wasielewski and Kuruppu. If Valve wants its revolution, it’ll have to create demand for SteamOS on its own.

“The fundamental reasons that Valve cares about SteamOS haven’t gone away, and we continue our work to expand it,” Valve said in a statement to PC Gamer. I had asked if SteamOS was still a priority, how many people were working on it, and if Windows 10 changed Valve’s approach. “The launch of Steam Machines taught us a lot about what Steam customers value in hardware. Right now we’re continuing to work on SteamOS as a product, with over 96 updates and 3,525 games released. We have many incentives for those making SteamOS titles and we see a bright future for SteamOS, especially in VR.”

The comment about VR is interesting, as the new tech is clearly Valve's present focus. If SteamOS can provide a better VR experience than Windows, and VR technology proves itself more popular in the future, perhaps the OS has a shot of resurging with a new round of ‘SteamVR Machines.’ But the success of SteamVR isn’t a sure thing, either.
For now, SteamOS hasn’t broken out of the small—though growing—niche of Linux gaming to become an actual competitor to Windows. It may get updates, and may have 3,525 games, but PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t one of them, and neither are Nier: Automata, Black Desert Online, Prey, nor The Witcher 3—these are all current Steam top sellers. With any new platform comes the same contradiction: why go through the trouble of supporting SteamOS if few use it, and why use it if few games support it?

Microsoft and Sony know how to solve that contradiction—with money—but SteamOS is supposed to be the antithesis of platform exclusivity: it’s open-source, it doesn’t run on hardware made by Valve or sold at a loss, and as of now it has no major exclusives. Without using console sales techniques, it has to rely on organic adoption.

While I was excited at the prospect of SteamOS back in 2013, breaking Microsoft’s grip on both console and PC gaming (especially now with its whole Xbox One lineup coming to Windows 10) seems more and more like a fantasy. And doing so by hacking away at Ubuntu while hardware partners take on the burden of selling Linux PCs to average consumers seems, in hindsight, doomed to fail.

Yet if public opinion again turns against Microsoft—more than usual, that is—perhaps Valve will get a second window of opportunity. If it does, I wonder if it will have to take on more of the risk to convince PC builders and game developers to come along for a second ride, and if it’s equipped to do that. Valve is seen as a small giant, but we’re talking a private company probably worth a few billion dollars compared to Microsoft, which earned $85.32 billion in revenue in 2016 alone. When it comes to the future of PC gaming, it’s still clear who the Goliath is.

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  Robot armageddon nigh!
Posted by: RolloTheGreat - 07-08-2017, 10:26 PM - Forum: Off Topic - Replies (19)

Shocking as this video may be, this is mankind's fate in the not too distant future according to Prof. S.Beast of Canada.

The overthrow of man will begin innocently enough in the next 5 years, according to Prof. Beast:

(07-06-2017, 05:34 AM)SickBeast Wrote: It's going to be extremely interesting to see what happens with automation, robots, and autonomous vehicles. With self driving cars we are almost there, less than five years away. Think of all those truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and couriers. All out of work simultaneously. They make up a huge chunk of the economy. Actually pretty much the entire retail sector is going to be wiped out. Just picture Amazon with robots working in their warehouse and other robots delivering everything. They are going to have to tax the robots. Hopefully with enough tax revenue from the robots we can have lots of "slackers" living a decent life off the system. Because the way things look our economy will no longer have enough jobs to support all the people living in our societies. To look beyond these facts is both foolish and ignorant.

A bold prediction to be sure as retail is responsible for the most jobs in the United States:


And driving employs 3% of us as well:


The economic system will be unable to absorb these huge numbers of unemployed, resulting in an all out war for survival on the planet between displaced workers and their robot overlords. (as seen in video)

GStandroid, a possible mechanized harbinger of the future, echoes Prof. Beast's dire prognostication:

(07-06-2017, 07:28 AM)gstanford Wrote: Yep. Just about all jobs will go, except for emergency services (ambulance, fire, police).

If you want work, Elon Musk will probably have a job for you establishing his Mars colony.

Once that is up and running It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the USA shipped its jobless unwanted poor off to mars just like England sent their unwanted to America centuries before.

Although space travel costs millions of dollars per person, paradoxically GStandroid feels the USA will send the millions of poor to Mars rather than a prison colony like Australia.

Run for your lives, rich or poor!

The age of our metal gods has begun!!!!


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  Google's Security Hypocrisy
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-08-2017, 04:51 AM - Forum: Gaming - Replies (1)


Quote:While Google has been quite enthusiastic about pointing out “crazy bad” flaws and vulnerabilities in software other than its own, it seems that the company has neglected its own software. This comes at a time when organizations are moving away from SMBv1, with Microsoft going as far as creating a list of old and new software that still relies on the vulnerable protocol.
Laughing pig

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  Skull Canyon NUC Beats 2009 Extreme Skulltrail Rig
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-06-2017, 05:50 AM - Forum: General Hardware - No Replies

Wow. A NUC that can fit in your pocket can blow away a top-of-the-line system from 2009. And to think that the exact people who made Skulltrail now work on making NUCs.

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  Micron Accident Will Cause DRAM Price Increases
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-06-2017, 12:49 AM - Forum: General Hardware - Replies (1)


Quote:DRAM prices are on the rise due to slow transitions to new nodes and increased demand in PC, mobile, and server segments. TrendForce predicts that the first quarter of 2017 suffered a 30% increase in the average contract pricing for DIMM modules. Making matters worse, the soothsayer predicts that we will see another 10% increase this quarter, and that is before accounting for the recent production interruption.

Micron recently finished its long-overdue purchase of Inotera. The production shut-down occurred at an Inotera fab, and TrendForce estimates the fab suffered a loss of around 60,000 wafer starts per month out of the fabs' normal 125,000 wafer starts per month. According to TrendForce's self-described conservative estimates, that equates to 5.5% of the global DRAM supply for July. That should kick off yet more price increases across the board. The analyst firm also contends that the cleaning and restoration process will be a "time-consuming challenge," so it appears the fab will take some time to bounce back to normal production levels.

TrendForce also notes that the Inotera fab pumps out LPDDR4 products for iPhones, so we could see delays on Apple's latest smartphone.

Micron released a statement, via Reuters, acknowledging a "minor facility event," but notes that operations are still in the process of recovery.
A quick glance at DRAM pricing on Amazon reveals just how bad the shortage already is, and any significant long-term disruption could be devastating to the global DRAM market, which already has a razor-thin margin of error. We've reached out to Micron for comment and will update as necessary.

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  AMD Rumored To Be Rebranding RX 460
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-05-2017, 08:56 PM - Forum: Video - No Replies

Wow, they're desperate to clear out the inventory.

Quote:In a bid to better make use of what could be a respectable stock of RX 460 graphics cards, AMD is reportedly rebranding these to the RX 500 series under the RX 560D name. Apparently, this is a straight rebrand, with no increased clocks or other revisions to the GPU die whatsoever. As such, this RX 560D would bring a lesser performance level than the current RX 560 already offers. Remember that the RX 560 is currently a rebrand of the RX 460 already, only with that card's full stream processor count (1,024) unlocked, whereas the original RX 460 only enabled 896 of the total 1,024 stream processors available on-die.

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  AMD Hires Damien Triolet
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-05-2017, 01:51 AM - Forum: Video - No Replies


Quote:Hardware.fr, part of the global network of tech-oriented sites that strive to bring you the latest and greatest coverage of hardware and related news, has announced that their GPU contributor Damien Triolet is leaving the site. Damien Triolet has been described by our very own W1zzard as one of the world's best GPU tech editors, and leaves the French hardware site after a 14-year-long stint delivering high-quality coverage to French readers.

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  Video Game Forum Foils Planned Assassination
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-05-2017, 01:37 AM - Forum: Gaming - Replies (1)


Quote:Users of a yet-to-be-named video game forum foiled plans of an apparent would-be assassin after he allegedly inquired about acquiring a 'Kalashnikov type' weapon. He reportedly intended to use the weapon in a plot to kill the recently-elected President of France, Emmanuel Macron, during the country's Bastille Day celebrations.

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  Ryzen 7 1800X For $400
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-04-2017, 10:12 PM - Forum: Hot Deals & Bargains - No Replies


Quote:If you haven't spent all of your money on fireworks, beer, and burgers, then check out TigerDirect's sale on AMD's fastest Ryzen processor currently available. It can be yours for $400.

The deal is good through the end of tomorrow (July 4) or while supplies last. Just enter coupon code IUN166219 at checkout and it will drop the price from $420 to $400.

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  Fermi Gets DirectX 12 Support
Posted by: SteelCrysis - 07-03-2017, 09:53 PM - Forum: Video - Replies (1)


Quote:With its latest GeForce 384 series graphics drivers, NVIDIA quietly added DirectX 12 API support for GPUs based on its "Fermi" architecture, as discovered by keen-eyed users on the Guru3D Forums. These include the GeForce 400-series and 500-series graphics cards. The support appears to be sufficient to run today's Direct3D feature-level 12_0 games or applications, and completes WDDM 2.2 compliance for GeForce "Fermi" graphics cards on Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703), which could be NVIDIA's motivation for extending DirectX 12 support to these 5+ year old chips. Whether they meet your games' minimum system requirements is an entirely different matter.

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