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AMD Talks 3D Stacking at Rice Presentation

AMD has talked up their "chiplet" based approach used in their upcoming products, and according to some reports, Marvell is already selling products based on the chiplet concept. But the next logical step from that approach is to move from 2D to 3D, where different dies are "stacked" on top of each other. In a recent presentation at Rice University, AMD confirmed that they're working on 3D stacking techniques in their future designs, and that it's a necessary step to keep the improvements coming, but didn't elaborate much beyond that. Check out the memory and stacking talk in the presentation below:
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 10:47 AM (CDT)

3DFX's Unreleased Rampage GPU Lives On in 2019

Before 3dfx was shut down, they started developing a "Rampage" GPU that never saw the light of day. Even though the Rampage cards didn't enter mass production, a couple of prototypes were made, and Oscar Barea and Martin Gamero Prieto got their hands on one for their upcoming book on the history of 3dfx. Now, footage of a living, breathing "Rampage 2000" GPU running Quake and other 3D titles for a couple of seconds has appeared on YouTube, suggesting that the company made at least partially functional drivers for the GPU before they went under. Check them out below:
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 10:41 AM (CDT)

Old-School: Half-Life Running on a Quantum3D Mercury Brick

Classic game, classic hardware: [H]ardForum member TheeRaccoon is one of the lucky few to get his hands on a Quantum3D Mercury "brick," which comprises four Quantum3D Obsidian2 200SBi video boards. As The Dodge Garage explains, these were generally used for multi-channel visual simulation and training applications back in the day, but as TheeRaccoon’s video proves, they can also run a certain Valve shooter just fine. Thanks for the share, erek.

After a little over a year of ownership, I finally present to you the legendary Quantum3D Mercury brick up and running! (Don't mind my ghetto homemade passthrough cable.) In this brick configuration, there are 8 Voodoo 2 chipsets in SLI! (Each 200SBi board has two Voodoo 2 chipsets in SLI mode.) These bricks were mostly used for military simulation in the late 90's/early 2000's. The image generated by each 200SBi board is combined into one image, giving you 4 tap rotated grid full scene anti-aliasing.

Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 4:35 PM (CDT)

NVIDIA Ending Driver Support for 3D Vision, Mobile Kepler-Series GeForce GPUs

NVIDIA has published two new support entries revealing the fate of its 3D Vision technology and Kepler notebook GPUs. After Release 418 in April 2019, GeForce Game Ready Drivers will no longer support NVIDIA 3D Vision. ("Those looking to utilize 3D Vision can remain on a Release 418 driver.") Critical security updates for mobile Kepler-series GPUs will also cease by April 2020.

Game Ready Driver upgrades, including performance enhancements, new features, and bug fixes, will be available for systems utilizing mobile Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing-series GPUs for notebooks, effective April 2019. Critical security updates will be available on systems utilizing mobile Kepler-series GPUs through April 2020. Game Ready Driver upgrades will continue to be available for desktop Kepler, Maxwell, Pascal, Volta, and Turing-series GPUs.

Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 10:10 AM (CDT)

3D Realms' "Wrath: Aeon of Ruin" Is a 90s-Inspired Shooter Built on the Quake Engine

Old-school shooter fans, rejoice! 3D Realms and KillPixel have announced they are releasing "Wrath: Aeon of Ruin" this summer, a 90s-inspired FPS built using the original Quake engine. As the Outlander, players will traverse a gothic hub world as they are tasked with hunting down the remaining Guardians of the Old World to a haunting soundscape by Andrew Hulshult (Quake Champions) and Bjorn Jacobson (CyberPunk 2077).

Fueled by legendary Quake 1 technology, the veins of WRATH pump with the DNA of revered '90s shooters. WRATH embraces the timeless elements of classic titles such as DOOM, QUAKE, DUKE NUKEM 3D, BLOOD, UNREAL and HEXEN and carries them into the 21st century. Equipped with an arsenal of 9 weapons of exceptional might and an inventory of 10 powerful artifacts, you must traverse ancient crypts, sunken ruins, corrupted temples and howling forests to bring death to your enemies.

Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 11:40 AM (CST)

BioWare: "We're Definitely Not Done with Mass Effect"

Mass Effect: Andromeda may have dealt the franchise a damaging blow, but BioWare general manager Casey Hudson is confident the series is far from finished. Speaking with Polygon in a studio profile, Hudson, who directed the originals, said Mass Effect was "very much alive": "I’m thinking all the time about things that I think will be great. It’s just a matter of getting back to it as soon as we can." He was joined by Anthem executive producer Mike Darrah, who shared similar thoughts.

"We’re definitely not done with Mass Effect," says Darrah. "There’s a lot of stories to be told. We could pull on the threads we put down with Andromeda; we could pull on threads from Mass Effect 3. There’s a lot of interesting space to be explored." The report suggests that the Frostbite engine may have been partly responsible for BioWare's Andromeda struggles. RPG systems had to be constructed from scratch to support the kind of story-driven game BioWare is famous for. The studio has since invested in advanced performance capture technology for Anthem.

Posted by Megalith February 16, 2019 10:00 AM (CST)

Future Processors Could Circulate Coolant Between 3D Chip Stacks

As we've noted in previous articles, manufacturers are quickly hitting the limits of chip shrinking, which means cutting edge processors will increasingly have to turn to advanced packaging solutions (like Intel's "Foveros" and EMIB designs or AMD's chiplet-based products) for performance gains. But in 3D stacked designs, cooling becomes a serious issue, as the top layers of chips effectively insulate the lower layers from heatsinks, and power density increases as more silicon is squeezed into a smaller area. To get around that issue, a group of researchers claim that chip makers could pump distilled water directly through the 3D stacks of future processor designs. The researchers say the approach makes use of gaps that would exist between 3D stacked chips anyway, and that valves could be used to direct more flow to particular chips or zones, while tiny patches of "themoelectric materials" (which typically use electricity to actively pump heat) could thermally link particularly hot areas of the chip to the fluid.

The tier-specific cooling approach, compared with conventional microfluidic cooling, can reduce the pumping power by 37.5%, preventing overcooling, when an operating temperature is specified.

For anyone who's interested in further reading, the paper also rounds up, and links to, previous microfluidic cooling efforts. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas February 07, 2019 10:08 AM (CST)

Bloomberg Claims iDevices With Laser 3D Cameras are Coming

Citing "people familiar with the plans," a recent report by Bloomberg claims that Apple plans to launch iPhones and iPads with a longer range, rear-facing 3D camera "as soon as next year." This new camera would supposedly use a laser scanner to create a 3D representation of the environment instead of the dot-projection technology used in Apple's front facing 3D cameras. Additionally, the insiders claim that the new devices will include a enhanced 3rd camera, and that this year's iPhones will sport 3 cameras as well, seemingly corroborating the Wall Street Journal's report from earlier this month. It also mentions that Apple is "testing" USB-C as a replacing to their proprietary lightning ports, while iOS 13 is said to include a dark mode and integration of an "original video content" service.

The 2020 iPhone camera may be a prelude to an AR headset that Apple has been preparing for as early as 2020... Apple previously aimed to put the new 3-D camera system on the back of this year's high-end iPhones, but delayed that, the people familiar also said... For 2019, Apple plans successors to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max -- code-named D42 and D43 -- and an update to the iPhone XR, said the people. The larger of the new high-end iPhones will have three cameras on the back, and other handsets could eventually come with the upgraded system, too, the people said.

Posted by alphaatlas January 31, 2019 10:19 AM (CST)

Resin Solidification Speeds Up 3D Printing

Researchers from the University of Michigan's engineering department have discovered a way to 3D print complex shapes "up to 100 times faster" than conventional 3D printers. Instead of laying down plastic filaments or other materials layer by layer, the researcher use two lights to selectively solidify liquid resin. Apparently, the researchers already used the technique to print complex objects, like a lattice structure and a boat with columns holding up a roof. They also claim the technique can be adapted to use harder materials, and that their printers have significant economic advantages over traditional 3D printers when objects need to be mass produced. The university posted the full research paper online, and you can check out a video of the 3D printer below:

The key to success is the chemistry of the resin. In conventional systems, there is only one reaction. A photoactivator hardens the resin wherever light shines. In the Michigan system, there is also a photoinhibitor, which responds to a different wavelength of light. Rather than merely controlling solidification in a 2D plane, as current vat-printing techniques do, the Michigan team can pattern the two kinds of light to harden the resin at essentially any 3D place near the illumination window. The University of Michigan has filed three patent applications to protect the multiple inventive aspects of the approach, and Scott is preparing to launch a startup company.

Posted by alphaatlas January 14, 2019 10:59 AM (CST)

Dimenco Keeps the 3D TV Flame Alive

At the beginning of the decade, glasses free 3D displays were hyped as the next big leap in TV and monitor technology, but the 3D push from big manufacturers fizzled out years ago. However, IEEE Spectrum reports that at least one company was continuing to champion the concept at CES 2019. One of the biggest problems facing glasses free 3D TVs was resolution, as splitting the feed in half with a lenticular filter effectively reduces the TV's resolution. This year's 8K LCDs more than solve that issue, and I imagine smaller 4K and 5K displays will too. Another common problem was the effectiveness of cameras and sensors used to track the position of viewers' eyes, but the field of machine vision has advanced leaps and bounds since 2010. I'm not sure what specific improvements Dimenco made on that front, but Spectrum said their demo at CES was far more convincing that previous prototypes. Check out the Dimenco video below:
And I can attest that, at least in the demos I saw, the 3D experience was smooth enough so I had no issues with headache or nausea - and I tend to be a real canary in the coal mine for those kinds of side effects... Dimenco's Simulated Reality is not exactly a product yet. The company is aiming to convince hardware manufacturers to add it to their displays, starting with manufacturers of laptops for gamers. In that product, it is expected to add about $200 to the manufacturing cost. And it also needs content. In an effort to get developers excited, the company introduced a development kit, including a 32-inch 8K display, gesture sensors, and audio hardware, along with software to allow its use with the main game development platforms. Dimenco indicated that it expects to see this technology reach consumers in 2020. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 11, 2019 10:45 AM (CST)

Microsoft's Direct3D Team Mounts Old GPUs on Their Office Wall

Throughout their history, Microsoft's Direct3D team, who are responsible for the various incarnations of DirectX and other related APIs, had to test quite a few graphics cards. In their own words, they've accumulated "a LOT" of old GPUs, and instead of storing them in boxes, the team decided to proudly display them on their office wall. They have the cards arranged chronologically, and I see an ancient IBM CGA, at least one 3dfx Voodoo, an Intel i740, and an S3 Savage among many other gems and oddities. Thanks to RockPaperShotgun for spotting the MSDN blog post, and I agree with their sentiment: it's a shame Microsoft didn't post higher resolution shots.

402 different GPUs covering 35 years of hardware history... Our collection includes mainstream successes, influential breakthrough products, and also many more obscure cards that nevertheless bring back rich memories for those who worked on them. It only covers discrete GPU configurations, because mobile parts and SoC components are less suitable for hanging on a wall. We think it's pretty cool - check it out if you ever have a reason to visit the D3D team in person!

Posted by alphaatlas January 10, 2019 7:56 AM (CST)

Intel Mixes Atom, Core and 3D Stacking in Lakefield

At their CES 2019 press conference, Intel refreshed their desktop processor lineup with IGP-less variants and unveiled the "Sunny Cove" CPU architecture in their laptop Ice Lake SOCs, but one of the most interesting designs Chipzilla displayed at the announcement is undoubtedly "Lakefield." The chip itself uses a "hybrid" CPU design, with 4 small Atom cores, one big Sunny Cove core and graphics all on one slab of silicon. Using their "Foveros" 3D stacking technology, they take that 10nm CPU die and sandwich it between a 22nm "Cache and I/O" die on the bottom and some DRAM stacks on top. The result is an entire SoC with memory squeezed into a 12mm x 12mm package, all of which fits on a motherboard that looks about as large as an M.2 NVMe SSD. Even if you aren't interested in the thin, low power laptops Intel is squarely aiming this system at, these design concepts and technologies will undoubtedly diffuse into Intel's higher-power products. Check out the "Lakefield" video below:

The result is a smaller board that provides OEMs more flexibility for thin and light form factor design and is packed with all the technology people have come to expect from Intel including long battery life, performance and connectivity. Lakefield is expected to be in production this year.

Posted by alphaatlas January 08, 2019 10:22 AM (CST)