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It is safe to bet that any video professional, enthusiast, or even home theater junkie has heard of and most certainly used the H.264 codec which has become the de facto standard for compressing high-definition video. H.264 uses very complicated algorithms that help accelerate the decoding process, which in turn reduces energy consumption and allows for higher bit rates. Yesterday, we participated in a briefing on the new X265 and HEVC encoder project that is being tackled by a company called MulticoreWare.
The X264 encoder remains one of the leading H.264 encoders on the market and it resides under both the open source GNU GPL license as well as a commercial license which is designed for companies that wish to inject their own proprietary code without having to release it into the open source community. With Ultra HD Video beginning to flow in, H.264 was just not delivering the performance needed for high bit rate, high quality output. This is where H.265 comes in the play along with MulticoreWare.
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), aka H.265, is being designed to replace H.264 and the official standard was released just over a month ago. And today, MulticoreWare announced its commercial open source project around the x265 encoder. The company has released the source code for x265 and it is available for download at Source #1 below. The x265 encoder is already highly parallel and supports all of the big instruction sets including FMA3/FMA4, AVX, and AVX2.
Today, Piriform released an update to its popular defragmentation software Defraggler. The company says that this release optimizes the Analyze and the Defrag functions across all operating systems and it contains an improved context menu to better aid in serving up defrag options.
Additionally, the company has added file type and last modified date columns to the file list as well as added progress information to boot time defrag processes. Furthermore, they have improved handling of locked and read-only drives as well as improved the management of unmounted drives. Finally, additional improvements have been made to the GUI and several bugs have been fixed.
In news that isn't so surprising, Adblock have reportedly been receiving money to display ads to their paying customers through Adblock Plus. The news is coming from Hacker News, which states that Adblock Plus has an "acceptable ads" filter that allows certain content through by default.
Adblock has big companies paying for this, with the company stating that this fee is to help maintain their filter lists, which whitelists some small websites and blogs for free. But, it will charge larger companies like Google to do as they wish. This allows companies the size of Google to pay to have their ads in front of people who paid to not see ads at all.
Will this result in a company coming out and making software that completely kills ads? I think not, because ads are what makes the Internet go round, just like oil does for the world.
NVIDIA released their GeForce 320.49 drivers last week, but they arrived in beta form. This week, though, NVIDIA have released them yet again, but have donned them with the WHQL stamp of stability.
We have the usual bug fixes and performance games with a 5-10% increase in performance for Metro: Last Night, Assassin's Creed 3, Starcraft 2 and BioShock: Infinite. A bigger 17-20% jump is given to Dirt and Tomb Raider. Artifacting issues in Battlefield 3 should be fixed, and EvE Retribution and Assassins Creed 3 should also be fixed up no.
The dual-monitor problems that saw GPU's running at higher performance levels has been fixed, so has the issue with GeForce GTX 680M-based notebooks going black after enabling SLI or 3D. You can grab the GeForce 320.49 WHQL drivers here.
Well, DirectX 11.2 is coming folks, and it will be exclusive to Windows 8.1 and Xbox One. Microsoft have confirmed the news, with the new iteration of Microsoft's software including tiles resources, which will allow developers to cram more detail into our games, and much more.
DirectX 11.2 is built to use both system RAM and graphics RAM to store textures, with Microsoft's Antoine Leblond saying that the tiled resources will see DirectX 11.2-based games have much better resolution of textures displayed in-game. Leblond used a live example, showing off a demo that used 9GB of texture data that was held in system RAM compared to graphics RAM.
This is great for PC gamers, but it also means gamers will be looking at a new OS once again. Microsoft are doing it strangely, too, as they won't be offering DirectX 11.2 to Windows 8 - so it looks like Windows 8 is done and dusted for if you're a gamer. Glad I haven't made the switch yet.
Microsoft have just updated their plans and will use their extensive cloud resources to crank out Office updates quicker, increasing the update period to every three weeks.
Jeff Teper, who is the Corporate Vice President for Microsoft's Office division, has told Bloomberg "within a year, users of Internet-based versions of Office productivity software, as well as e-mail, telephony and collaboration tools, will have parts of their software refreshed weekly." Does this news help you at all? An updated Office is a better office, yes?
If you're one that lives on the bleeding edge and use an AMD Radeon GPU, you might want to check out their new drivers. AMD have just announced a specialized driver for Windows 8.1, as the new OS features an upgraded display driver model, WDDM 1.3.
GPU's based on AMD's Graphics CoreNext (GCN) architecture will be supported by Windows 8.1 over WDDM 1.3, but older VLIW4 and VLIW5-based GPU's (such as the Radeon HD 6000 series and older) will be supported through WDDM 1.2-based drivers. Windows 8.1 provides some slick new enhancements to PC graphics, such as support for Microsoft's own standardized wireless display technology; 48Hz dynamic refresh rates for video playback, V-sync interrupt optimization, video conferencing acceleration, and a new instruction to the DirectX 11.1 API named "tiled resources".
The AMD Windows 8.1 Preview Catalyst driver is in beta, so you've been warned. You can download the new drivers right here.
NVIDIA have released the GeForce 320.49 Beta drivers, which are perfect for the just-released GeForce GTX 760 GPU. The new beta drivers not only include support for NVIDIA's latest mid-range GPU, but they include a bunch of fixes that were reported with previous drivers.
These fixes include problems with image corruption and artifacting Eve Online: Retribution, Assassin's Creed III, Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The GeForce 320.49 Beta drivers also include, or add SLI support for a number of titles: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, Natural Selection 2, Trackmania 2: Canyon and GRID 2.
You can download the drivers right here.
Good guy Razer is giving their Surround Virtual 7.1 software away for free, asks you to donate to charity if you like it
Razer has just announced a new software package targeted at gamers that will allow them to turn their boring old normal headphones into a 7.1 channel surround beast. Razer Surround, according to the company, goes above and beyond existing multi-channel simulation packages by giving users a calibration system that tunes the effect for individual listeners.
The software is designed as an add-on for the Razer Synapse 2.0 software package and the company has plans to offer it for sale in 2014 for $19.99, but the company is offering a pretty sweet deal to early adopters. Anyone wishing to purchase Razer Surround before January 1, 2014 will receive an unprecedented 100-percent discount.
Razer simply asked that if you find the software useful that you donate some cash to the Child's Play charity (source #2). The software is compatible with Windows Vista and higher and provides preconfigured calibrations for all razor audio products. Custom configurations can be built to calibrate for third-party headsets and users will need to register for Razer Synapse 2.0, so an online connection is needed.
After one million streams on Pandora, the music streaming service only paid the artist $16 - the US government is to blame
After streaming out one million times over Pandora, artist David Lowery received just $16.89. The songwriter and musician's song "Low" was streamed 1,159,000 times on Pandora in a three-month period, where he received that piddly amount of money.
Spotify streamed his song 116,620 times and paid him $12.05 for this amount and lastly, Sirius XM streamed the song 179 times paying him $181.94 - more than $1 per stream, a much better amount. Who is to blame here from this piddly amount paid from Pandora? The US government, and more specifically, the US Congress.
US Congress are the ones who set the rates at which royalties are paid to artists. Lowery himself explains:
For you civilians webcasting rates are "compulsory" rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not "opt out" of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn't pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courts-a single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a "compulsory" but may as well be).