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The Final Bottom Line

We have written thousands of "The Bottom Lines" over the last couple of decades, but this is truly the last one. What I wrote in my "Goodbye HardOCP - Hello Intel" statement is not a cruel April Fool's Day joke. Tomorrow is my first day working for Intel...promise. I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all you guys. The simple fact is that without YOU, there would not be 20 years of HardOCP history to sit around and reminisce about, but make no mistake it is the readers that made HardOCP what it is. We have long tried to gauge what you wanted to read about, and how you wanted that delivered, then we tried our best to fulfill that desire. During the last 20 years, there is no doubt that there were times that we stumbled along the way, but I always tried to learn from our shortcomings to make us better on the other side. And again, it was the readers that held our feet to the fire and made us get better at producing content that you wanted to read. The readers made HardOCP what it was. Many thanks to a long list of editors and hardware enthusiast that I have worked with here at HardOCP. While I am not going to list them all, Brent Justice, Paul Johnson, Dan Dobrowloski, and Cliff Murphy (our backend admin) have been with me the longest and truly made HardOCP better. Many thanks gentlemen! While HardOCP will no longer be publishing, the HardForum will still be going strong. I will still be part of that community and you will see me active there, so I will not be hard to find. You will also be seeing me all over the country very soon, hopefully close to your backyard, and if you get the chance, please swing by so we can talk Intel tech. If you want to keep tabs on what is going on with me, give my Twitter account a follow @KyleBennett. Ongoing Discussion
Posted by Kyle March 31, 2019 8:23 PM (CDT)

Signing out One Last Time

Today is the last day that I'll be doing the news on Hardocp and I just wanted to tell everyone that it was an honor to be allowed into your workplaces and homes through a few humbly written articles. I hope that my writings brought a little joy and happiness to my friends here; yes, I consider us all friends. I was taught by my parents to show love to others by sharing and I hope my articles entertained the Hardocp audience. The questions, answers, and lively debate that they generated certainly entertained me. Thank you @Kyle_Bennett and the [H]ardocp family for giving me a chance. Thank you, KG Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 6:32 PM (CDT)

VRoamer Generates On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking Through Buildings

VRoamer is a new Microsoft Research project that generates VR worlds on-the-fly while users walk through unknown building environments. Players can wear their HMD and no longer have to rely on artificial locomotion techniques such as teleportation. They simply walk through their environment and the game is built around them. This is possible through the use of a wearable tech camera that scans the environment in front of the user and visualizes a playable virtual world. The system paints its virtual environment over real world objects such as doors. The system keeps the user safe from objects in the real world, even though those objects are hidden to the user. Transitions are done through corridors that are constructed to the available space in the user's environment. Players can open real doors to progress the game and the corridors may contain weapons, enemies, keys, etc. Objects that suddenly appear in a user's environment such as other people may become skeletons or traps.

In this paper, we present VRoamer, which enables users to walk unseen physical spaces for which VRoamer procedurally generates a virtual scene on-the-fly. Scaling to the size of office buildings, VRoamer extracts walkable areas and detects physical obstacles in real time using inside-out tracking, instantiates pre-authored virtual rooms if their sizes fit physically walkable areas or otherwise generates virtual corridors and doors that lead to undiscovered physical areas. The use of these virtual structures that connect pre-authored scenes on-the-fly allow VRoamer to (1) temporarily block users' passage, thus slowing them down while increasing VRoamer's insight into newly discovered physical areas, (2) prevent users from seeing changes beyond the current virtual scene, and (3) obfuscate the appearance of physical environments. VRoamer animates virtual objects to reflect dynamically discovered changes of the physical environment, such as people walking by or obstacles that become apparent only with closer proximity.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 22, 2019 4:47 PM (CDT)

AMD Confirms Stadia Will Run on Intel CPUs

As one of the world's most pervasive cloud service providers, Google is in a better position to launch a successful game streaming platform than almost anyone. The hardware they choose to use for the launch of their "Stadia" streaming service will undoubtedly influence future game streaming efforts, hence AMD's stock price shot through the roof when Google announced they were using AMD GPUs. However, PCGamesN writer Dave James noticed that Google was conspicuously silent when it came to Stadia's CPUs. They were happy to share clock speeds, cache numbers and the fact that they're using "custom" x86 chips, but they refused to confirm the vendor of the platform's CPU. Eventually, AMD reached out and said that "the Stadia platform is using custom AMD Radeon datacentre GPUs, not AMD CPUs." Barring any surprise announcements from VIA, that more or less confirms that Stadia will run on some sort of Intel CPU platform, but just why Google refused to mention Chipzilla by name remains a mystery. The author suggested that Intel might not want to associate themself with what might be a "doomed" venture. Maybe Google plans to switch to EPYC CPUs or an unannounced Intel server platform sometime in the future, or maybe they just don't think it's particularly relevant. Whatever the reason may be, I also find the omission to be curious, and look forward to seeing what happens with Stadia's hardware in the future.

A switch to AMD's EPYC processors has been mooted as a potential future step for Stadia, and Google's Phil Harrison told us himself that "we're just talking about Gen 1 at the moment, but there will be iterations on that technology over time," so there is some potential for a changing of the processor guard either before or after launch. Whatever the truth of the matter is I still find it beyond strange that no-one involved is talking about the Intel CPUs being used for Google Stadia, even if they're not necessarily doing anything that special with regards the innovative streaming service. Certainly the multi-GPU features on offer with the Radeon graphics cards warranted mention, but just a note on the specs slide alone could have still done good things for Intel.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 11:20 AM (CDT)

PlayStation Introduces State of Play Broadcast

Last year, Sony dropped out of E3 for fairly nebulous reasons, and canceled their annual Playstation Experience event. The announcement left many wondering what Sony would replace the events with, and today, it seems that the company took some notes from their competition. Mirroring the periodic Nintendo Direct streams and Microsoft's Inside Xbox broadcasts, Sony will debut their "State of Play" broadcast on Monday, March 25, at 4:00 PM Central Time. Thanks to cageymaru for the tip.

State of Play will give you updates and announcements from the world of PlayStation. Our first episode will showcase upcoming PS4 and PS VR software, including new trailers, new game announcements and new gameplay footage. You can watch live on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook worldwide, and we'll be offering up the VOD edition shortly after the episode airs. And this is just the beginning! State of Play will return throughout the year with more updates and announcements. See you Monday!

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 10:38 AM (CDT)

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)

Steam Is Getting a Redesigned Library and New Events Features

At GDC today, Valve announced a new UI for the Steam Library. The new Steam Library has larger game icons and more categorization for your games. PC Gamer says the library reminds them of Plex or the Apple TV. The Steam Friend's List is integrated into the Library view on the right side. They noted that the coolest feature is using Steam Tags for games to create new categories such as "Ninja Action." A Beta release is scheduled for this summer. The new Steam Events page will create a new way for fans of games to connect with developers. Games in your library that are organizing occasions like game updates, streams, tournaments, and so on will be found here. This is being built in response to today's live service games. Developers will be able to get the word out to fans through calendar support for Google and iCal, Steam client notifications, email, text message, and Steam mobile app. These events will be shown in other parts of Steam also.

"We think of this as the way developers will be able to communicate with players through Steam," Kroll said. "We want to build the foundation for a communication platform where all the interesting things that are happening in games can find their way to the customers. And the customers that are interested in finding out 'what's happening in games in my library, what kind of events are happening, what's been updated recently, what are my friends doing,' making all that much easier for players to be able to find."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 6:32 PM (CDT)

Facebook Employees Had Access to Millions of User Passwords Stored in Plain Text

In a new blog post entitled "Keeping Passwords Secure" Facebook VP Engineering, Security and Privacy Pedro Canahuati explains how the social media giant accidentally stored Facebook user's passwords on internal data storage systems in plain text. Pedro explains how "these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them. We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users." To keep your account safe, Facebook suggests changing your Facebook and Instagram passwords, pick strong passwords, use a password manager, and enable a security key or two-factor authentication. In recent months, Facebook has vowed to clean up its act as it has been accused of sharing user data, one click account takeover bugs, paying minors to harvest their data without parental consent, had its enterprise certificate revoked by Apple, access token hack, Cambridge Analytica, and many more fines and hacks. I would suggest picking a password so long and complex that Facebook employees would get tired from writing it down.

As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems. This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution we will be notifying everyone whose passwords we have found were stored in this way.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 21, 2019 1:17 PM (CDT)

Unreal Engine is Getting Destructable Environment Support

High-quality destructible environments seem like something that should be standard in 2019, but even today, it's a relatively rare thing to find in a game. It was a headlining feature Red Faction: Guerilla back in 2009, and a prominent feature in the recently released Crackdown 3, but detailed, destructible environments are still absent from most releases. However, at GDC this year, Epic announced that they're integrating a destruction system into Unreal Engine. Given how popular the engine is, and how competitors will probably try to achieve feature parity, I expect to see more games with destructible environments in the near future.

Revealed onstage at GDC 2019 during "State of Unreal," Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The real-time tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall. With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in real time in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction, with unprecedented artist control over content creation.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 11:47 AM (CDT)

Health Apps Sell User Data

A recent study from the BMJ found that many popular health apps share more data with advertisers than they probably should. The researchers analyzed 24 Android apps with scripts that simulate real world usage, and found that 19 of them shared potentially sensitive user data (PDF Warning) with 55 "unique entities." 14 of the apps transmitted the data over an unencrypted connection. The researchers stressed that the entities collecting the data not only have the ability to aggregate it with user information from other sources, but that they turn around and sell this information to other 3rd parties, which represents a huge potential privacy violation.

Sharing of user data is routine, yet far from transparent. Clinicians should be conscious of privacy risks in their own use of apps and, when recommending apps, explain the potential for loss of privacy as part of informed consent. Privacy regulation should emphasise the accountabilities of those who control and process user data. Developers should disclose all data sharing practices and allow users to choose precisely what data are shared and with whom.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 10:34 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)