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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.

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

Valve Addresses Review Bombing on Steam by Removing Them from Review Scores

To mitigate the effects of review bombing, Valve announced Friday it has a built a tool that would identify and alert the moderation team of any game with "anomalous review activity." After a case of review bombing is confirmed, the reviews submitted under this time period would then be removed from the review score calculation. Gamers can opt out of this change, however, and "off-topic review bombs" will remain on the site for anyone curious enough to read them.

Once our team has identified that the anomalous activity is an off-topic review bomb, we'll mark the time period it encompasses and notify the developer. The reviews within that time period will then be removed from the Review Score calculation. As before, the reviews themselves are left untouched - if you want to dig into them to see if they're relevant to you, you'll still be able to do so. To help you do that, we've made it clear when you're looking at a store page where we've removed some reviews by default, and we've further improved the UI around anomalous review periods.

Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 9:30 AM (CDT)

Western Digital Launches Budget WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD

Western Digital has announced its new WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD product line that features budget friendly offerings. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) in the U.S. is $54.99 USD for 250GB (model number: WDS250G1B0C) and $77.99 USD for 500GB (model number: WDS500G1B0C). The drives feature a single-sided M.2 2280 PCIe Gen3 x2 form factor that makes them perfect for slim form factor notebooks or desktop PCs. Although the drives will appeal to price-conscious consumers, they are built on Western Digital's own 3D NAND technology, firmware and controller, and delivers sequential read and write speeds up to 1,700MB/s and 1,450MB/s respectively (for 500GB model) with efficient power consumption as low as 2.7W. The drives feature a downloadable SSD dashboard to help monitor drive health and a 5-year limited warranty.

"Content transitioning from 4K and 8K means it's a perfect time for video and photo editors, content creators, heavy data users, and PC enthusiasts to transition from SATA to NVMe," said Eyal Bek, vice president marketing, data center and client computing, Western Digital. "The WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD will enable customers to build high-performance laptops and PCs with fast speeds and enough capacity in a reliable, rugged and slim form factor."

Posted by cageymaru March 14, 2019 12:37 PM (CDT)

YouTube Adds Feature to Fact-Check Viral Conspiracy Videos and Fake News

Continuing its effort to combat misinformation, YouTube has announced that future searches involving sensitive topics will be accompanied by "information panels" with debunks from fact-checking partners to alert users of potentially incorrect content. The videos themselves will not be fact checked, however; they will still appear in the search results.

Videos containing misinformation can still appear in the search results, but YouTube will generate these disclaimers when a query involves sensitive topics, with the intent to inform viewers as the company deals with the spread of misinformation on the platform. The feature is currently available to a limited number of users in India, one of YouTube’s largest markets with nearly 250 million users, for search queries in English and Hindi. The company said it will eventually expand it to users across the world, but declined to say when.

Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 11:30 AM (CDT)

Denuvo Performance Hit in Devil May Cry 5 Tested

Capcom accidentally left a developer branch of Devil May Cry 5 public that didn't have Denuvo copy protection added to the files. A Steam user created a guide for downloading the file, but Capcom took the file down. Digital Foundry has tested the file to see the performance difference between Denuvo on and off. They experienced a 7% difference in performance between the builds, but only at low resolutions. Devil May Cry 5 is fairly light on CPU usage according to Richard Leadbetter. I included images showing the performance difference from the Steam user that created the guide. Left is with Denuvo enabled and right is without Denuvo.

Assuming that the only difference between the two builds is indeed the inclusion of Denuvo, or the lack of it, the evidence looks conclusive. On the one hand, modern gaming PCs should have the CPU overhead to run the extra load incurred by what our tests suggests to be the Denuvo DRM. However, on the other hand, the notion of any DRM system incurring a seven per cent in-game hit to performance on a processor as capable as the Core i5 8400 (which runs six cores at a peak 3.8GHz) is certainly concerning. We've approached Capcom for comment and will update with any further information.

Posted by cageymaru March 08, 2019 4:35 PM (CST)

Rust - The Oil Rig Update Adds Vulkan Support

Facepunch Studios has announced The Oil Rig update for Rust which adds new A.I. to the game and support for Vulkan and Metal. Windows users can test out Vulkan, but expect lots of bugs. Linux users have been fully migrated to Vulkan and Mac users to Metal. Other upgrades coming with The Oil Rig update include new wave physics, a return of world reflections, faster loading times and more!

This patch we're introducing the biggest change to our water system in a long while. Our ocean has been roughly flat, aside from short waves that didn't really affect physics. From here on, however, ocean waves will affect the behaviour of any floating body. Larger waves are stronger and higher when further away from the islands, so you can attempt to avoid them by choosing a path closer to the shore. If you do decide to adventure into the unknown, you may want to choose a bigger, more stable vessel. You'll note how interaction with water now generates disturbance foam, including crest foam at the peak of the deep sea waves. For now only small boats generate disturbance foam, but we'll extend this capability to any bodies interacting with water, as well as improve the level of interaction to include displacement and simulation. Water junk piles in deep sea are no longer flat and static, they are moving with the waves as you attempt to loot whatever's up for grabs.

Posted by cageymaru March 07, 2019 9:05 PM (CST)

Nvidia Adds Metro Exodus to RTX Bundle

In an attempt to tempt those in the market for an new GPU, Nvidia just launched the "RTX Triple Threat" game bundle with what may be the best RTX-enabled game to date. Nvidia's previous "Game On Bundle" gave buyers Battlefield V and Anthem for free, but starting today, anyone who buys a RTX 2080 or 2080 TI will get Metro Exodus as well. RTX 2070 and 2060 buyers will get to pick 1 of the 3 games, but sadly, the recently released 1660 TI isn't part of this particular bundle.
Pre-built desktops and laptops are covered by the deal as well, and the terms and conditions mention that the deal will be good until at least April 4, 2019. Several games that previously advertised RTX support still haven't received patches to enable it, while others are coming closer to release, so I suspect Nvidia will offer bundles with a larger variety of RTX-enabled games later this year. But, as we've noted, Metro Exodus is one of the best examples of Nvidia's raytracing and DLSS technology to date, and the developers are improving it with every update. Update 3/6/2019: We previously reported that RTX 2070 and 2060 buyers get 2 out of the 3 games, but Nvidia's terms say they only get to pick a single game. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 05, 2019 12:49 PM (CST)

Apex Legends Hits 50 Million Players

In a tweet that Eurogamer spotted, Respawn's CEO revealed that Apex Legends has hit 50 million players merely 4 weeks after the surprise launch. Roundhill Investments has been tracking the progress of Apex Legend's meteoric rise, and notes that it took Fortnite almost 5 times as long to hit 50 million players. Right now, Apex Legends has 160,788 viewers on twitch, compared to about 179,000 for Fortnite and 52,235 for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, but how far Apex Legends will continue to rise remains to be seen. Either way, this is undoubtedly great news for Respawn and EA.

While some are pegging Apex Legends as the "Fortnite killer", it seems Epic is still doing pretty great. Thanks to the Marshmello concert, Fortnite had its biggest event ever on February 2nd with 10.7m players, and on February 16th had its biggest non-event day with 7.6m. Fortnite also has the advantage of more platforms, with significant player numbers on Switch and mobile.

Posted by alphaatlas March 04, 2019 12:17 PM (CST)

Samurai Shodown Added to Evo 2019 Main Stage

Samurai Shodown has been added to the main stage of the Evolution Championship Series (Evo). The remake of the classic fighting game has an early-summer 2019 release date. Main stage games unveiled during the Evo 2019 reveal livestream include: Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Tekken 7, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, SoulCalibur VI, Mortal Kombat 11, and Samurai Shodown.

While some games are heavily-expected returns (like Street Fighter V and Tekken 7), a notable few are welcome newcomers, such as the upcoming Samurai Shodown and the much-loved Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]. Mr. Wizard and MarkMan have also pledged that side events will receive even more spotlight at Evo 2019, continuing the trend from last year in giving other communities more spotlight, even if their favorite game isn't on the main stage. Evo 2019 will take place on August 2-4 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Posted by cageymaru February 27, 2019 7:58 AM (CST)

AMD Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.3 Drivers Add Support for AMD Ryzen Mobile APU's

Senior Director of AMD Software Strategy Terry Makedon has announced that Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.3 is out and it adds support for AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. The Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 series of drivers give up to 17% average performance gains in eSports titles with AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.3 vs. 17.40 launch drivers for AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. The drivers also give up to 10% average performance gains with AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.3 vs. 17.40 launch drivers for AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics must perform a driver upgrade to AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.2.3 to retain functionality of Radeon FreeSync on Radeon FreeSync enabled system configurations. Here is the FAQ for AMD Ryzen Processors with Radeon Graphics and the driver support page. The drivers add support for Dirt Rally 2 and Radeon RX Vega 64 owners can experience up to 3% performance gains in the rally racing simulator. Fixed issues include: Battlefield V players may experience character outlines stuck on screen after being revived. Fan speeds may remain elevated for longer periods than expected when using Tuning Control Auto Overclock or manual fan curve in Radeon WattMan on AMD Radeon VII. ReLive wireless VR may experience an application crash or hang during extended periods of play. Zero RPM will correctly disable in Radeon WattMan on available system configurations when manual fan curve is enabled. A loss of video may be intermittently experienced when launching a fullscreen player application with Radeon FreeSync enabled.

Known Issues: Mouse lag or system slowdown is observed for extended periods of time with two or more displays connected and one display switched off. Changes made in Radeon WattMan settings via Radeon Overlay may sometimes not save or take effect once Radeon Overlay is closed. Some Mobile or Hybrid Graphics system configurations may intermittently experience green flicker when moving the mouse over YouTube videos in Chrome web browser. A work around if this occurs is to disable hardware acceleration. Radeon WattMan settings changes may intermittently not apply on AMD Radeon VII. Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Posted by cageymaru February 25, 2019 7:42 PM (CST)

GOG in Financial Trouble as Layoffs Hit the PC Games Digital Storefront

GOG is in financial trouble as the DRM-free PC games digital storefront has confirmed it laid off 12 members of its team. This number may seem small, but it equates to 10% of the total workforce at GOG. On a more positive note, the company is hiring more employees and says it has "welcomed nearly twice as many new team members." GOG competes directly with other digital game storefronts such as Steam, Origin, Epic Store, etc.

"We were told it's a financial decision," that person told me in an online message. "GOG's revenue couldn't keep up with growth, the fact that we're dangerously close to being in the red has come up in the past few months, and the market's move towards higher [developer] revenue shares has, or will, affect the bottom line as well. I mean, it's just an odd situation, like things got really desperate really fast. I know that February was a really bad month, but January on the other hand was excellent. We were in the middle of a general restructuring, moving some teams around, not unprecedented. But layoffs that big have never happened before."

Posted by cageymaru February 25, 2019 5:39 PM (CST)

New MicroSD Standard Comes with PCIe and NVMe

The SD Association just announced (PDF Warning) a new microSD standard that should dramatically speed up the flash memory cards. MicroSD Express, as they call it, uses a single lane of PCIe 3.1 and the NVMe 1.3 protocol to hit transfer speeds of up to 985MB/s. While your average consumer NVMe SSD eats far more power than a MicroSD card, the organization claims that the new cards will consume less energy than their predecessors, and promises full backwards compatibility with older interfaces. If all this sounds familiar, that's because the SD Association association introduced the SD Express format last year, adding support for massive storage capacities in the process, and even reused part of thier old promotional video for the MicroSD Express Launch. Thanks to Techcrunch for spotting the report.

NVMe can have a dedicated command queue in the DRAM for every CPU core while in other commonly used embedded or removable cards (ie UFS, eMMC and SD) there is a bottle neck of single available queue supported by the host controller interface.

Posted by alphaatlas February 25, 2019 9:50 AM (CST)