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Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Jason Evangelho of Forbes has started a Linux series where he reviews various Linux distributions (distros) for ease of use and performance in regards to Linux gaming. Jason's series isn't about just running benchmarks as he asks questions that everyday users would need to find out. Where am I going to get up-to-date graphics drivers for my AMD or NVIDIA graphics card? How is the default state of gaming on the Linux distro? Can I get Steam working right out of the box or am I going to have to tweak my system to accomplish this task? The 9 Linux distros that he is going to test in the series includes: Fedora 29 Workstation, Pop!_OS 18.10, Debian 9, Solus 4, Manjaro 18, Linux Mint 19, elementary OS 5, Deepin 15.9, and Ubuntu 18.10. His test system consists of an AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Radeon Sapphire RX 580, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and more. So far he has tested Fedora 29 Workstation and Pop!_OS 18.10 with Pop!_OS 18.10 easily winning hands down in usability and performance. With the recent announcement that Google is leveraging Linux, Vulkan, first party games, and open-source AMD drivers for games running on its Google Stadia game streaming service; Linux gaming performance may enter into our PC gaming world very soon!

If you're an NVIDIA user, good news: Pop!_OS has a separate installer image for you which automatically installs the proprietary (and far more performant) graphics driver. Again, there's no need to enable alternative software sources or hit the command line. The moment your OS is installed you're ready to start gaming. You'll be using the latest and greatest stable driver, Nvidia 418.43. Radeon gamers have an advantage across several Linux distributions: the open source driver is part of the kernel (and thus ready to use immediately), well maintained and quite performant. This typically means less steps to get up and running with Steam and Steam Proton. One distinct difference between Pop!_OS and Fedora, however, is that Fedora runs with a much newer MESA driver. Specifically, Fedora 29 uses MESA 18.3.4 while Pop uses MESA 18.2.8. The kernel on Pop is also a bit older, but again I noticed no disadvantage on the gaming side save for one: updating your kernel to 5.0 will add Freesync support which is a feature I can't live without. It is quite literally a game-changer.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

Facebook Unveils the Oculus Rift S

At GDC, Facebook unveiled their next PC virtual reality headset. Among other things, the Oculus Rift S features a "higher pixel density" and "improved optics," but doesn't divulge many technical details. According to UploadVR, the new headset now uses a single 2560x1440 LCD instead of dual PenTile 2160x1200 OLED displays. And instead of requiring external sensors, the new Rift uses built-in cameras for tracking. It also features "enhanced" comfort, integrated audio, a better passthrough feature to keep you from bumping into walls, as well as compatibility with the same game library as the previous Rift, along with the same hardware requirements. Facebook says that the Rift S is launching in Spring 2019 for $399 USD.

Oculus Rift S is our most advanced PC-powered headset. Take on VR's best games with improved resolution and comfortable new design. No external sensors. No complicated set up. Just hands-on action and interaction. Step into the game and the future of PC VR. Coming Spring 2019.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:47 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)

Anthem Was Bioware's Second Best Launch

Following their trouble with Mass Effect: Andromeda, Bioware has a lot riding on their last big release: Anthem. Recent reports of low physical sales, as well as mixed feedback from the players in the game, suggested that the title might not be doing particularly well. However, a recent report from NPD claims that Anthem was the best selling game of February 2019, and that it was Bioware's 2nd best launch to date, behind only Mass Effect 3. Interestingly, the report also claims that monthly "video games hardware" sales are down about 12% year to year, while software sales are up 15%.

And that doesn't even include Anthem's PC digital sales. More importantly, it doesn't count the people who signed up for EA's Access Origin Premier service for $15 per month. That figure is likely significant since that membership now gets players access to a library of older games as well as Battlefield V and Madden NFL 19.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 8:41 AM (CDT)

Otherside Teases System Shock 3

We haven't heard much about Otherside's upcoming System Shock sequel recently. They teased the game back in 2016, and have released a few other screenshots and some concept art, but the devs just made a bigger reveal. At Unity's GDC's keynote this year, Otherside Entertainment showed off some in-game footage of System Shock 3. In case it isn't obvious, the devs mentioned that they're building the new game with Unity, and talked quite a bit about the graphics that are going into the game.

As you can see, there's been a couple of concepts and iterations on her face; the team's gone through a couple of versions to match the tone and overall direction of shock3 as development progresses. Some early concepts were just that; concepts made to push your imagination and inspire the developers to think about how they wanted to present Shodan (or perhaps more accurately, how Shodan should be presenting herself in the next game).

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 12:06 PM (CDT)

Intel Ice Lake Shows Up In EEC Database

Intel showed off a 10nm Ice Lake "client SoC" at CES this year, and revealed that it will use the "Sunny Cove" CPU architecture. While they gave a few details about the upcoming mobile chips and the core itself, we didn't hear much about Ice Lake in higher power parts. However, Twitter user and data-miner Komachi has once again found some unreleased hardware on the Eurasian Economic Commission's Online Portal. The first listing shows an "Idaville Ice Lake-D Pre-Alpha 85W Clear Linux Internal 32G Physical SDP," suggesting that Intel will brink the upcoming 10nm architecture to their (relatively) high power Xeon-D server chip lineup. Assuming the listing is accurate (as some other EEC listings have been,) this more or less confirms that Ice Lake won't be confined to the realm of low-power laptop chips.
Meanwhile, the next listing suggests that the low power "Ice Lake-Y" chips will have a "4+2" core config. Intel's current Amber Lake processors top out at 2 cores, so if I'm reading the listing right, it looks like ultra low power notebooks could get a core count boost next generation. There's also an Ice Lake-U "upgrade kit" listing with the same "4+2" core config. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:48 AM (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)

Octane Makes His Debut in Apex Legends Season 1

Apex Legends Season 1 Battle Pass has been announced and the newest playable character is named Octane. The Battle Pass costs 950 Apex Coins or $9.50. Players will unlock new rewards for every level that they gain during the season. This includes weapon skins, banner frames, XP boosts and more. Three Wild Frontier-themed Legend skins are immediately unlocked for purchasers of the Battle Pass. There is also a Battle Pass Bundle that has 25 Battle Pass level unlocks included for $28.00.

Meet Octane After blowing his legs off in a record-breaking gauntlet speed-run, Octavio "Octane" Silva is diving into the Apex Games with metal legs and even bigger ambitions. He's searching for the ultimate adrenaline rush by using his death-defying moves to become an Apex Champion. His Adrenaline Junkie ability lets him trade health for speed, and an endless supply of Stim health regeneration means he's always ready for action. His Launch Pad Ultimate Ability lets his squad fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Jump into Apex Legends and play Octane tomorrow!

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 4:57 PM (CDT)

Intel Delivers First Exascale Supercomputer to Argonne National Laboratory

Intel Corporation and Cray Inc. have announced that a Cray "Shasta" system will be the first U.S. exascale supercomputer. This $500 million Aurora supercomputer will be coming to the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in 2021 and will have a performance of one exaFLOP - a quintillion floating point operations per second. In addition, this system is designed to enable the convergence of traditional HPC, data analytics, and artificial intelligence -- at exascale. The program contract is valued at more than $100 million for Cray, one of the largest contracts in the company's history. The design of the Aurora system calls for 200 Shasta cabinets, Cray's software stack optimized for Intel architectures, Cray Slingshot interconnect, as well as next generation Intel technology innovations in compute processor, memory and storage technologies. Intel's Rajeeb Hazra detailed some of the futuristic technology coming to Aurora including a future generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, the recently announced Intel Xe compute architecture, and Intel Optane DC persistent memory. "Today is an important day not only for the team of technologists and scientists who have come together to build our first exascale computer -- but also for all of us who are committed to American innovation and manufacturing," said Bob Swan, Intel CEO. "The convergence of AI and high-performance computing is an enormous opportunity to address some of the world's biggest challenges and an important catalyst for economic opportunity."

The Aurora system's exaFLOP of performance -- equal to a "quintillion" floating point computations per second -- combined with an ability to handle both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale. These breakthrough research projects range from developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction and discovering materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells. The Aurora system will foster new scientific innovation and usher in new technological capabilities, furthering the United States' scientific leadership position globally.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 3:24 PM (CDT)

Lazareth Teases a Transforming Hoverbike

French car and bike maker Lazareth just teased a flying, turbine powered "hoverbike" that can transform into a motorcycle. No, I wouldn't believe them either, and many were skeptical of the company's claims back when they showed off renderings of the LMV 496 years ago, but they uploaded a live demonstration as proof. The contraption reportedly uses 4 96,000 RPM JetCat jet turbines to lift itself off the ground, and only weights about 308 lb while making as much as 529 lb of thrust. However, what isn't clear is how the bike is powered in "road" mode, or if the prototype's wheels are even powered at all. New Atlas seems to think there's some kind of electric drive train, and I wouldn't be surprised if the turbines were used to drive the car in road mode. Jet turbines have been used to make ridiculously high power motorcycles before, but as far as I know, this is the first one that can fly with them.

Lazareth has hover-tested the bike on tethers to a height of 1 m (3.3 ft), with his brave and lightweight girlfriend Vanessa at the helm... The Lazareth team will be bringing the Moto Volante to Gitex in Dubai this October, and will launch pre-orders there at a price of 496,000 Euros (approx. US$560,000). La Moto Volante joins Jetpack Aviation's Speeder as the only two jet-powered flying motorcycle concepts we've seen to date. Mind you, the Speeder is much more of a single-purpose vehicle without any road capability, and as such we'd expect its flight dynamics to be superior and less compromised. But Lazareth's got a full size prototype in the air that's also road-certified, so congratulations to the Lazareth team for building what must be acknowledged as a ground-breaking multi-mode vehicle.

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Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 11:48 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:
Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 10:41 AM (CDT)

JPMorgan Chase Uses AI Powered Video Game as a Recruitment Tool

Recent reports claim that JPMorgan Chase are trialing "neuroscience-based video games" from pymetrics as a intern recruiting tool. The games supposedly assess applicants' "social, cognitive and behavioral features, such as attention, memory and altruism," and attempt to identify what job the applicant might be best suited for. But, unlike Amazon's "biased" AI recruiting tool, pymetrics says their "Netflix-like recommendation algorithm" is fair and accurate. As the report mentions, it appears that companies are getting more comfortable with the use of machine learning powered recruitment tools, in spite of the potential pitfalls associated with their use.

Large firms have been increasingly turning to technology to make recruitment and other human resources processes more fair. Systems also include applications that scan performance reviews for unconscious bias or that monitor job ads for phrases that might dissuade a certain demographic from applying ."Our re-imagining of how we hire is part of a broader objective at the firm where we are asking ourselves: 'Can we better meet our diversity goals by broadening the pool of candidates we are considering?'," Mitro said. JPMorgan's pilot will continue with applicants for 2020 internships in the United States, he added, noting that this technology would only be one step of the selection process.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)