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PCIe SSDs Will Overtake SATA in 2019

A recent report from Digitimes claims that PCIe SSDs could finally overtake SATA SSD shipments in 2019. Unit prices for 512GB PCIe SSDs have supposedly fallen 11% sequentially, down to a price of $55 in Q1 2019, while SATA SSD prices only dropped 9%. The price gap between the different SSDs was around 30% in 2018, and according to the publication's market sources, that gap is only going to shrink as time goes on. Meanwhile, thanks to the rapidly falling prices of NAND flash memory chips, total SSD shipments are expected to rise dramatically. Digitimes expects shipments to increase "20-25%" in 2019, while a separate report claims that changes in enterprise market shipments could be even more dramatic. Relatively low prices for high performance drives with capacities of up to 16TB are apparently tempting many companies away from HDDs. Meanwhile, laptop makers are starting to ship lower-cost devices with SSDs by default, and according to PCPartPicker's latest charts, retail prices for standalone consumer drives have been dropping as well. Overall, it looks like 2019 will be a great year for anyone who's looking for more speedy storage, but the big flash manufacturer's efforts to slow production could stop the tumbling prices by 2020.

Falling average selling prices for consumer Gen 3.0x2 PCIe SSDs fitted in notebooks will accelerate the adoption of such SSDs by OEMs. This, coupled with demand for ever-higher storage capacity and speed to support cloud computing, 5G and autonomous driving applications, will further stimulate market demand for PCIe SSDs and inspire brand vendors to gear up production of such lucrative storage devices and related chips, the sources indicated. For instance, Taiwan-based IC designers Silicon Motion Technology, Phison Electronics, and Silicon Integrated Systems are racing to roll out enhanced version of PCI SSD controller chips, while major brand vendors such as Kingston Technology, Adata Technology, Transcend Information, Seagate and Micron have also listed PCIe SSDs as their mainstream product lines.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 10:17 AM (CDT)

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 Is Coming Q1 2020

Paradox Interactive has announced Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 is coming Q1 2020 onto consoles and PC. NVIDIA is the official graphics partner for the sequel to the cult classic and features such as real-time ray tracing and DLSS will be integrated into the game. The creative mind behind the memorable characters of the 2004 game, Brian Mitsoda, has returned as the Lead Narrative Designer for Bloodlines 2. Paradox Interactive has announced that the game will have support well past its launch date as free DLC for new factions. The game will be placed in Seattle's Dark Heart as players live out their vampire fantasies in a city filled with intriguing characters that are shaped by your choices. The combat is melee-focused and your character grows as you progress, but don't forget to uphold the Masquerade and guard your humanity ... or face the consequences.

"When Paradox announced they were acquiring the World of Darkness IP, I immediately started thinking about what it would be like to return to Vampire: The Masquerade. Our aim has been to carry on the signature themes that made Bloodlines unique - particularly its dark tone, atmosphere, and humor - and I think that fans of the original will love what we're doing with Bloodlines 2." - Brian Mitsoda

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 9:51 AM (CDT)

CD Projekt Red Reiterates Plan to Release 2 Games by 2021

In post by an official CD PROJEKT Moderator on their forums, the company re-iterated its promise to "release a second AAA game by 2021." The Polish company started teasing Cyberpunk 2077 way back in 2012, and the game still doesn't have a release window, but just what else the company is working on remains a mystery. Its not clear if the studio has been secretly chipping away at this second project for some time, if its somehow derived from Cyberpunk 2077 or The Witcher (which could reduce development time), or if it's simply smaller-scope AAA release, but the developer hasn't divulged any details about it so far.

"As far as the strategy of the CD PROJEKT Capital Group for 2016-2021 is concerned, its plans to release the second AAA game by 2021 remain unchanged. We are currently focusing on the production and promotion of Cyberpunk, so we do not want to comment on further projects. Donata Poplawska"

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 11:26 AM (CDT)

Intel Previews Processors and Graphics Software at GDC 2019

At their GDC 2019 conference, Intel confirmed that they'll launch 9th generation mobile processors in the 2nd quarter of 2019. While 9th generation H-series and Y-series "Ice Lake" parts recently showed up on the EEC website, Intel told PC World that these parts are based on 14nm Coffee Lake Silicon. The company also mentioned that one of their goals with his release is "longer battery life" for gamers and more casual users alike, and they're promoting their Wi-Fi 6 capable AX200 chip and 3D XPoint memory with the new chips Meanwhile, Intel also showed off a new software suite for their modern IGPs and (presumably) their future GPUs. The "Intel Graphics Command Center" is essentially their answer to Nvidia's GeForce Experience and AMD's Game Advisor, as it automatically scans your PC for supported games and applies the optimal settings for your current hardware. An "early access" version of the control panel is available on the Microsoft Store, and oddly enough, it says it was "released" on 11/26/2018. Unlike other app stores, the Microsoft Store doesn't log updates or list old changes, so it was presumably in some kind of closed alpha before being officially launched today.

We asked, you answered. You're tired of our 'old, boring, corporate-looking' Graphics Control Panel. We were too and we designed a completely new one from the ground up! We're incorporating the changes you - the gamers, home theater enthusiasts, professionals, and everyday tinkerers requested. Using a phased approach, we're rolling out something we're proud to share with you: introducing the Intel Graphics Command Center.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 9:54 AM (CDT)

Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Intel reportedly unveiled some "early designs" of their upcoming discrete graphics cards at their GDC 2019 presentation. The graphics card in the first and 2nd slides they showed largely reassembles an Optane 905P SSD with a blower fan and a conspicuously short PCB. While the Xe's specs and performance levels are still unknown, to me, the short PCB suggests that Intel will use some kind of on-package memory with their upcoming GPU, or a relatively narrow GDDR memory bus at the very least. A shot of the back reveals a full backplate, as well as 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI port. Finally, the last slide shows a card with a fan right on top of the graphics chip, which is something I haven't seen on a high-end reference card in some time.

Unfortunately, full specifications are still not yet available for Intel's upcoming graphics card. Real world performance is essentially completely unknown for now. As the year goes on, there is a good chance Intel may share some numbers given how eager the company is to make everyone aware that they have a major new product incoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 8:32 AM (CDT)

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3

The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3 driver has been released and it adds support for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Generation Zero. Fixed issues include: Rainbow Six Siege may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay. DOTA 2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan API.

Known Issues: Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 4:51 PM (CDT)

Nvidia Skips Ampere at GTC 2019

Several news outlets seems to think Nvidia's GTC presentation was relatively longwinded and unexciting this year. The three-hour keynote reportedly featured some software announcements and a low power Jetson board, among other things, but didn't feature the 7nm Ampere GPUs many were expecting. EE Times says that the "unspoken message" at the presentation was that "Nvidia doesn't need to pre-announce a new and faster chip because it owns that software stack and channel today," and the emphasis on CUDA seemed to really drive that point home. However, in one of the more exciting parts of the presentation, Nvidia did highlight the Q2VKPT project we covered earlier this year. Nvidia's CEO seemed quite excited about the introduction of raytracing to Quake II, and they showed off some of the project's gameplay, which you can see below:

Presaging that future, Nvidia's chief scientist, Bill Dally, told reporters about a research project in optical chip-to-chip links. It targets throughput in terabits/second while drawing 2 picojoules/bit/s. In an initial implementation, 32 wavelengths will run at 12.5 Gbits/s each, with a move to 64 wavelengths doubling bandwidth in a follow-up generation. Dally predicted that copper links will start run out of gas as data rates approach 100 Gbits/s, already on many roadmaps for network switches. Progress in more power-efficient laser sources and ring resonators will enable the long-predicted shift, he said. If the future evolves as he believes, bleeding-edge GPUs may continue to skip an appearance at some Nvidia events. Attendees will have to hope that as the interconnects speed up, the keynotes don't get even longer.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 11:25 AM (CDT)

Google Fined $1.7 Billion Over Monopolistic Practices

The European commission has reportedly slapped Google with a 1.49 billion Euro (or $1.69 billion USD) fine for "abusing its monopoly in online advertising." More specifically, the report alleges that Google prevented companies that using its search service from running any third party adverts, and the commission claims that "Google's rivals were not able to compete on the merits, either because there was an outright prohibition for them to appear on publisher websites or because Google reserved for itself by far the most valuable commercial space on those websites, while at the same time controlling how rival search adverts could appear." Google apparently changed these practices in 2016, but it took some time for the repercussions to catch up with them.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said: "Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate - and consumers the benefits of competition."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:30 AM (CDT)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

MSI Expected to Overtake Samsung in the Curved Monitor Market

A recent report from Digitimes claims that MSI could soon steal the title of "world's largest supplier of curved gaming monitors" from Samsung in 2019. While flat monitors have dominated "gaming monitor" sales in the past, MSI claims that curved monitors accounted for about 60% of all gaming monitor shipments in 2018, and could rise to 66.7% in 2019. The gaming hardware market is still growing, even as the PC market continues to shrink as a whole, so its not surprising to see the big manufacturers increase their focus on their enthusiast and "gaming" lineups.

The company's motherboard business is currently facing issues including CPU shortages and decreasing demand. Despite Intel having already promised to ease the tight supply by the end of the second quarter, MSI still expects overall motherboard shipments to shrink by over 10% in 2019. MSI shipped around six million motherboards in 2018 and is expected to maintain a similar volume in 2019. Meanwhile, MSI is expected to finish digesting its graphics card inventory in the second quarter and begin promoting Nvidia's new cards to help increase its sales. MSI is expected to deliver around four million graphics cards in 2019, about the same level as in the past couple of years.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:00 AM (CDT)

All Myspace Data Before 2016 is Gone

Thanks to a "faulty server migration," MySpace has lost all data uploaded to the site before 2016. MySpace users started noticing the problem over a year ago, but tech support staff only recently started acknowledging that users' data may never come back. The Guardian claims "50m tracks from 14 million artists have been lost," and according to one of their articles from last year, the site still has many dedicated users.

Some have questioned how the embattled company, which was purchased by Time Inc in 2016, could make such a blunder. "I'm deeply sceptical this was an accident," wrote the web expert Andy Baio. "Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than, 'We can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50m old MP3s.'" Myspace initially claimed the deletion was a temporary error, with customer support staff telling one user: "I have been informed the issue will be fixed." But by July last year it was publicly acknowledging that no such fix was forthcoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 8:39 AM (CDT)

Microsoft Announces Variable Rate Shading Support for DX12

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) is a powerful new API that gives the developers the ability to use GPUs more intelligently. Shaders are used to calculate the color of each pixel in a screen. Shading rate refers to the resolution at which these shaders are called (which is different from the overall screen resolution). A higher shading rate means better visual fidelity at the cost of using more GPU power. All pixels in a frame are affected by the game's shading rate. VSR allows developers to choose which areas of the frame are more important and increase the visual fidelity, or set parts of the frame to have lower fidelity and gain extra performance. Lowering the fidelity of parts of the scene can help low spec machines to run faster. There are two tiers of support for VRS. First of all the VRS API lets developers set the shading rate in 3 different ways: per draw, within a draw by using a screenspace image, or within a draw, per primitive. The hardware that can support per-draw VRS hardware are Tier 1. There's also a Tier 2, the hardware that can support both per-draw and within-draw variable rate shading. VRS support exists today on in-market NVIDIA hardware and on upcoming Intel hardware. AMD is rumored to be working on support for the feature.

For example, foveated rendering, rendering the most detail in the area where the user is paying attention, and gradually decreasing the shading rate outside this area to save on performance. In a first-person shooter, the user is likely paying most attention to their crosshairs, and not much attention to the far edges of the screen, making FPS games an ideal candidate for this technique. Another use case for a screenspace image is using an edge detection filter to determine the areas that need a higher shading rate, since edges are where aliasing happens. Once the locations of the edges are known, a developer can set the screenspace image based on that, shading the areas where the edges are with high detail, and reducing the shading rate in other areas of the screen.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 7:07 PM (CDT)